Canine Rheumatoid Arthritis
As a result, the body attacks its own joint tissues and the immune system creates antibodies that fight its own body. These immune complexes are deposited in the joints and painful inflammation results leading to deterioration of cartilage and bone.
Symptoms/SignsDog owners can find the impact of rheumatoid arthritis in their dogs to be quite heartbreaking, as the mobility of the animal can be severely limited. While some dogs with this disease are still able to walk, others will completely lose their ability to do so. Most dogs with rheumatoid arthritis will have trouble rising or walking up stairs. Your dog will most likely be less interested in playing or running.
On a day-to-day basis, dogs will experience stiffness, and swollen, painful joints. Dog owners may also find that their dog’s joints palpitate and are warm to the touch. Other signs of the disease to watch for include loss of appetite and fever. Kidney problems, lymph nodes and tonsillitis and pneumonia can result from this issue.
If you take your dog to the veterinarian, the disease can be diagnosed with x-rays, which will reveal a loss of bone. Bones almost look as though holes have been punched in them. There is also a blood test that can tell if the dog has the “rheumatoid factor.’
Causes Of Canine Rheumatoid ArthritisUnfortunately, the exact causes of this disease are still unknown. Some speculate that the canine distemper virus results in rheumatoid arthritis. Others believe that canine rheumatoid arthritis is just the result of genetics or inherent immune system problems.
There is a connection, however, with the size and shape of the dog. Rheumatoid arthritis is most common in dogs that are small in size. Therefore, toy breeds are more at risk. It has also been observed that dogs most commonly get this disease when they are 5-6 years old. Further, overweight dogs are more susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis.
PreventionTo prevent canine rheumatoid arthritis, it makes sense to be sure that your dog is getting a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. A proper diet can make a big impact towards keeping your dog free of immune disorders. Also since overweight dogs are most likely to get this condition, try to monitor your dog’s weight carefully.
Foods enriched with omega-3 fatty acids like fish and fish oil are extremely beneficial for dogs.
These nutrients help a dog’s body with normal processes. Vitamin C can also prevent joint deterioration. Dietary supplements, for example, chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine suphate, can also fight the weakening in dog’s bones. If you are concerned that your dog might get canine rheumatoid arthritis, you may want to consider adding daily supplements to his or her food.
Dog Arthritis TreatmentSteroids and NSAIDS (or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are commonly prescribed for canine rheumatoid arthritis. For example, aspirin is a NSAID that is often administered. Medication can help subside the pain that your dog is experiencing. However, while these treatments might be helpful in the short run, stomach ulcers and liver and kidney problems can result after time from persistent use of pain medications.
There are also drugs, like azathioprine and cyclophosphamide, which counteract the dog’s immune reactions. However, when dogs are on immunosuppressive drugs, a variety of side effects can occur. For instance, they can develop infections and have problems with their bone marrow. While these drugs can help control the body’s immune reactions, they can be too harmful to dogs in the long-run. These medicines can also cause nauseau, vomiting and diarrhea. Therefore, some experts believe that immunosuppressive drugs are not a good idea for dogs with this condition.
Taking your dog to a holistic veterinarian who can provide information about both mainstream and alternative treatments can be very helful in chooosing the best options for your pet.
Natural Help For Canine Rheumatoid ArthritisThere are also a variety of natural measures that owners can take to releave the symptoms and assist with this disease. First of all, it is important that your dog is getting ample rest. In this regard, orthopedic beds, which have more support and padding, are a good choice for dogs with RA.
Provide a natural diet that contains all the nutrients to support the immune system and maintain his weight at a healthy level. Excess weight just adds further stress to already paintul joints.
Regular exercise is actually beneficial to the healing process. If your dog is in pain or overweight, of course, he or she may feel less like exercising. However, try to make sure that your four-legged friend is getting some gentle exercise every day.
Acupuncture has also been shown to be helpful in treating canine rheumatoid arthritis. This technique has been practiced for thousands of years and is renowned for its abilities to heal the body and manage pain. This treatment is believed to allow the dog’s body to create natural painkillers. You may find that this treatment improves your dog’s mobility and his or her quality of life.
Also on a day-to-day basis, canine rheumatoid arthritis can be helped by various changes that you can make to keep your dog’s life more pleasant. Try to keep the dog warm, as cold conditions can aggravate the inflammation in your dog’s body. Also massage and warm baths can help manage the pain. You can also consider adding items to your home that will make your pet’s life easier, for example, pet ramps that allow your pet to transport him or herself without straining.
Recognizing the early warning signs of dog illnesses is very important to finding a cure, managing a disease, relieving unnecessary pain, and in many cases returning the pet to good health. I recommend owners obtain a copy of Dr. Pitcairn's Natural Dog Health book, written by this renowned vet, that is chock full of natural remedies for numerous dog health issues, plus advice about which dog illnesses need a prompt consultation with a pet professional.
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