Doctor's Notes; Degenerative Joint Disease
posted: Jun. 17, 2020.
If your senior dog is having trouble getting up, limps, or appears stiff after resting, or seems reluctant to walk, run or climb stairs, osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD) is likely the cause. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that DJD affects one in five dogs in the U.S.
In younger dogs, smooth cartilage normally protects the bones in moveable joints, acting as a cushion to allow smooth and painless movement. However, age and other factors can cause the cartilage to wear down over time. The result is pain and inflammation as bone-to-bone friction begins to occur.
In addition to age, osteoarthritis can be caused by injuries, obesity, congenital disorders such as hip dysplasia and patella luxation, and other issues. We can often diagnose DJD based on a physical exam and your dog's medical history, but we may recommend X-rays to determine how much of the disease has progressed.
Although DJD progresses over time, we can take steps to slow its progression and keep your dog more comfortable. Certain foods and supplements may reduce the symptoms of arthritis and maintaining a healthy weight will reduce stress on the joints. Regular, light exercise can also help keep the joints more supple.
Other treatments that can bring relief include massage, acupuncture, and physical rehabilitation. We may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or pain medication to help alleviate symptoms. Some underlying conditions, such as patella luxation, can be helped with surgery.
If you suspect that osteoarthritis is causing your dog discomfort, provide a warm and comfortable place for rest, and make sure he can access his favorite areas without jumping or other movements that jar the joints. See us soon for an exam so we can determine the best treatment to keep your dog in maximum comfort.