I'm a CAMadvocate!
These past few weeks I've been trying to use my time to build on my knowledge in certain areas. One of these areas is canine arthritis as I see it so commonly. I wanted to get some extra treatment tips and maybe some management tips for my owners too. In comes Canine Arthritis Management.
They launched a great new course for canine professionals to improve their knowledge on canine arthritis so of course I signed up! The course has been absolutely amazing and I have throughly enjoyed all 10 modules, making me a CAMadvocate. This mean I can officially advocate for dogs with arthritis and spread awareness of the condition. We have covered so much, and I'm going to try and summarise some of what I've learnt here for you guys today!
First of all, the statistics are scary. But they're only scary because there's so much that we could be doing that we're not. The more awareness and knowledge we can share, the better these statistics will be!
80% of all dogs over the age of 8 have arthritis
Yes, that's a lot. And many of these cases will be down to natural processes happening in the joints that we currently can't do much about other than slow the process down. However a lot of these cases can be preventable, particularly if the dog is overweight or is having issues elsewhere. If we can keep a dog moving normally on their joints then it helps to prevent any bad wear and tear.
35% of all dogs over the age of 1 have arthritis
Now this is where people start to become shocked. People always associate arthritis with old age, and as something that just happens as you get older. The previous fact doesn't surprise many people, but nobody expects a puppy to get an arthritis diagnosis. The reality of it is, that arthritis is not just an 'old age condition'! We need to be on the ball from day 1, looking out for signs, detecting issues early so that we can make the most impact.
Why do young dogs get arthritis? We often say that arthritis comes from either;
'normal wear and tear on an abnormal joint' - so our puppies with development issues such as elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, OCD (osteochondritis dissecans), patella luxation, etc. where the joint is abnormal and even with absolutely perfect movement on that joint there will be issues.
or 'abnormal wear and tear on a normal joint' - where the joint is clinically completely fine, but the loading on that joint is too much. Being overweight is the biggest culprit of this, but also having a lameness elsewhere can cause more loading on the other joints, some invasive surgeries can also cause secondary arthritis.
As I said previously, we need to be on the ball!
Osteoarthritis is now considered a canine welfare issue
Under animal welfare laws and guidelines, dogs should be able to live a life free of pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, arthritis is certainly not free of pain and discomfort, which is why it has now been recognised as a welfare issue for our domesticated dogs. Don't panic though, if you have a dog with arthritis, the main concern is to provide that dog with pain relief. If you are choosing not to provide medicinal pain relief, there needs to be some proven method of reducing your dogs pain in order for your dog to live in good welfare. I'll be writing another blog post on NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) soon so stay tuned!
The basic message is that we cannot ignore arthritis, and we cannot ignore our dogs pain!
Arthritis is the leading cause of chosen euthanasia in dogs
This is a sad one I'm sorry, but actually this is so important because none of us want to say goodbye to our dogs, especially if we could have had more time from treating the arthritis earlier. Early detection is key for this one, as our options are great for early diagnosis! As the condition takes hold, things become more difficult.
Humans with osteoarthritis almost always report severe pain in their affected areas
This ones a given. I'm sure if you know anyone with arthritis, or suffer with it yourself, you would know how much pain plays a part. Whether that be the chronic achy pain that worsens in the cold, or the acute flare-ups that can be debilitating at times, its a painful condition. Our dogs have the same joint structure, and the same pain pathways, so why wouldn't they feel the pain?
A study of over 50,000 dogs found that being overweight reduced life-span by up to 2.5 years
Being overweight is really detrimental to our dogs, and unfortunately its so much more common than we even realise. This study is super interesting and highlights the long-term effects of your pooch being a little chubby! https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jvim.15367
So I think we can all agree that arthritis in dogs is a big issue, and it's definitely something that we want to address. As a veterinary physiotherapist I try my best to help the dogs that I see, but unfortunately there are so many more out there that may not be getting the help they need. Let's spread the word and get every dog owner looking out for signs of arthritis so they can get more happy years with their fur babies! I'll be writing more posts about arthritis soon, but for now check out my 'Is my dog in pain?' post.
Thanks for reading!
Harley :) x