This Article is About
overweight dogs
obesity in dogs
hip dysplasia
arthritis symptoms
long distances
blood circulation
health complications
maintaining a healthy weight
excess weight
muscle mass
middle age
Arthritis In Overweight Dogs
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Arthritis In Overweight Dogs

As a boisterous, energetic young dog, my Labrador would walk for long distances. For every step I took, he must have run a mile. As he approached middle age his weight increased, and as a result some health issues developed. More recently he has been reluctant to exercise. A quick visit to the vet has confirmed the onset of arthritis.

Arthritis in dogs is a disease affecting joints such as the hips, knees, elbows and shoulders. The discomfort can be mild to severe. Arthritis breaks down the protective cartilage between the joints and causes inflammation. The disease is incurable, and it gets progressively worse.

Is your pet overweight and at risk of arthritis? There are things you can do to help prevent arthritis and, if your dog already has the condition, there are actions you can take to manage the disease.

Link between arthritis and obesity in dogs

Whether dogs are young or old, excess weight adds stress to their joints. Large breeds are more prone to developing arthritis than smaller dogs, so any additional weight simply makes the condition more likely.

An overweight dog will become more and more reluctant to exercise. As they become more sedentary, they begin to lose muscle mass. Blood circulation declines, and stiffness in joints develops. Arthritis can occur for other reasons such as hip dysplasia or joint injury, but the fact remains that dogs maintaining a healthy weight throughout their lives are less likely to develop arthritis.

So if you think your pet could be overweight, act now. Who knows you could be preventing future health complications.

The signs of arthritis

Symptoms can be hard to spot in the early stages. We noticed a change in our pet’s mood and behaviour. There was nothing obvious; he just seemed a little unwell. Here are some of the other things to look out for:

• A reluctance to exercise

• Limping

• Difficulty getting up or down from a seated or standing position

• A reluctance to climb stairs or jump in the back of the car

• Joint stiffness

• Sleeping more

Managing the condition

Once arthritis has been confirmed by a vet there are things you can do to manage the situation:

  1. Maintain the dog’s ideal weight. The less stress on joints from those extra pounds the better. If in doubt about your dog's weight, talk to your vet. They can help put together a weight reduction diet tailored to your individual pet.
  2. Moderate exercise is important because it maintains muscle mass and joint flexibility. Too much exercise will certainly aggravate the condition, so the emphasis should be on low impact activities.
  3. Swimming is excellent because it supports the dog’s weight while maintaining muscle mass. Many vets these days have hydrotherapy facilities to offer dogs with severe arthritis.
  4. Comfortable bedding with soft padding will help support painful joints.
  5. Make sure their living environment is free of cold, damp and draughts.
  6. Use medication and supplements as advised by the vet.

My Labrador has been on a weight loss diet now for some months and is making good progress towards achieving his ideal weight. Could I have avoided or delayed arthritis by paying more attention to his weight gain and acting more promptly? I will never know for sure. What I do know, is that weight loss helps with the management of arthritis. Shedding the pounds, in conjunction with the medication, has given my dog a new lease of life. He has definitely “perked up” in terms of the exercise, and is back to his old self.

If you think your dog could be overweight, tackle the problem immediately. Get veterinary advice before the problem gets out of control. Weight gain is reversible, arthritis and some of the other medical problems linked to obesity are not.

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