The vast majority of canine pain finds its origin in joint dysfunction, of which there are two principal types: degenerative, and developmental. Occasionally, joint problems are the result of trauma. Developmental joint disorders are those in which the joint fails to develop correctly, as is the case with hip and elbow dysplasia, luxating patellas and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) of the shoulder. Degenerative joint disease (DJD), or osteoarthritis, often referred to as “old-age” or “wear and tear” arthritis, is progressive and permanent. Developmental and degenerative joint conditions are distinct, however, joints with developmental problems will almost certainly also be affected by the deterioration that comes with age.
Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs
Dogs exhibit particular and observable signs when their joints are compromised by arthritis, such as:
Increasing stiffness, especially when first rising, or going up steps.
Decreased physical activity, often accompanied by an increase in the amount of time spent sleeping, as well as weight gain.
Limping, intermittently or continuously, that worsens in cold weather or following either exercise or inactivity.
Crying when touched, or upon moving.
Reluctance to jump into the car, or on furniture.
Most dog owners will notice that these symptoms develop gradually.
Causes of Canine Joint Problems
A genetic component is clearly culpable in developmental canine joint disorders such as dysplasia and OCD, as affected animals tend to occur in familial groupings. However, there is little doubt that an environmental factor wields influence as well. External factors, including inappropriate nutrition, obesity, or too much or the wrong kind of exercise for a dog that still developing are known causative factors. Diets excessively high in calcium and calories, typical of many puppy foods, should not be fed to young, rapidly growing dogs.
Degenerative joint issues are often the result of normal aging. As dogs age, the cartilage that covers the outer surface of their joints begins to thin as cartilage cells die off. The death of these cells releases inflammation causing enzymes into the joint capsule. Osteophytes (bony growths) often develop. The space inside the joint becomes smaller and the joint’s ability to function normally is compromised. A cycle of pain, discomfort, inactivity and loss of use resulting from muscular atrophy begins. These changes will be visible to varying degrees via X-rays.
How to Alleviate Canine Joint Pain
Most developmental joint disorders can be eventually eliminated from the gene pool with careful and responsible breeding. Breeders should take care to only breed dogs with suitable ratings from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hips and elbows. Puppy buyers should only purchase pups from parents who have such ratings. Pain from existing joint problems is often ameliorated with painkillers such as Tramadol and anti-inflammatory drugs like Rimadyl, or even injectable medications such as Adequan that protect existing cartilage and promote its manufacture. Exercise, warmth and class IV therapeutic laser therapy all help to increase blood flow to affected areas and to promote healing.
The Importance of Quality Supplementation
Finally, perhaps the most efficient means available for producing optimal quality joints in canines is to supplement with high quality nutritional supplements from the earliest of ages, if not in utero. Primary active ingredients such as vitamin C, MSM, glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, omega 3 fatty acids, and cetyl myristoleate work synergistically to provide the joint with the raw materials buy tramadol online without prescription it needs to not only maintain healthy joints, but to repair existing damage and rebuild cartilage. The difference between a supplement with premium-quality ingredients versus one made with cheap ingredients may equate to the product’s efficacy (or lack thereof) and to the comfort and mobility of one’s pet. For example, studies have shown higher-quality low molecular weight chondroitin to be a significantly effective inhibitor of arthritis, whereas intact chondroitin sulfate (lower quality, but cheaper) has none.
Much canine pain as well as human heartache can be averted if the human population as a whole will take responsibility for the dogs in their stewardship. People should ask to see documentation that the parents of puppies they’re about to purchase are joint disease free. They should provide them with age-appropriate nutrition and exercise, and maintain them at a healthy body weight, introducing high-quality prophylactic supplementation early-on under the guidance of a qualified veterinarian.
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