This disease commonly affects older dogs because it’s often caused by the long-term degeneration of joint cartilage, which in turn causes chronic joint inflammation.
“This disease is slowly progressive and can range in severity,” says Julie Geisler, DVM and associate veterinarian at Boulevard Veterinary in Chicago. In addition to being common in older dogs, Geisler adds that dogs with a history of orthopedic surgery, disease or injury are also particularly susceptible to osteoarthritis as they age.
Obesity is another cause of the disease, Phillips says, because extra weight means added stress that pulls downward on the spine. Adipose tissue (fat) also secretes hormones that increase inflammation in joints and elsewhere the body. Because osteoarthritis isn’t a disease that gets cured, you’re best off preventing its occurrence by introducing healthy eating and exercise at an early age. You should also deal with trauma – hard falls, etc. – quickly to minimize any lasting damage to the dog’s body.
Regular chiropractic care, Geisler says, is one way to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Heat and cold therapy, medications, nutritional supplements, dietary management, physical therapy, acupuncture, surgery and more may also be recommended by a veterinarian to treat the condition depending on the particulars of the case.