Diagnosing Arthritis in Dogs

Does My Dog Have Arthritis?

Did you know one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions especially in older dogs is Osteo-arthritis?

That doesn’t mean however that every dog with mobility issues such as lameness, sore backs slow to rise, difficulty jumping into cars or walking up stairs – has arthritis.

There are many other conditions that could be contributing to these symptoms of which osteoarthritis is only one of them.

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

The word “arthritis” means joint inflammation. However – not all mobility issues are related to a joint problem.

Lameness, stiffness and pain be caused by other conditions such as:

  1. A soft tissue injuryStem Cell treatment for dog arthritis
  2. Spinal disease
  3. Bone Cancer

Making any assumptions without further investigations can lead to wrong treatments and potentially make your dog worse.

How We Diagnose

We start by performing a thorough musculo-skeletal assessment. This gives us an idea of whether we’re going to recommend X-Rays, Ultrasound or a CT Scan to see the extent of the injury or disease.

  • For suspected soft tissue injuries – we use Ultrasound e.g Muscle tears, Ligament damage
  • If we think it’s a spinal issue – we will do a CT Scan e.g. Intervertbral Disc Disease, Spondylosis
  • If we’re suspicious of joint involvement we’ll do either a CT or X-Ray

Following these steps gives us the best possible chance of an accurate diagnosis. Because – without them, we’re really only guessing.

In our practice only vets with additional training in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation perform our musculo-skeletal assessments.

Trends in Diagnosing Arthritis

Unfortunately what we’re seeing is many dogs being diagnosed with arthritis without any form of imaging to support that conclusion.

These dogs come to us for second opinion because they are not improving on their prescribed medications. That’s because they have other un-diagnosed issues causing their symptoms OR the prescribed treatment program is not working for them.

We find that once we discover the real cause of these dogs’ pain and get them onto the right treatment plan, we see significant improvement in their mobility and happiness.

Arthritis Treatment Options

There are 2 parts to successfully managing osteo-arthritis in dogs once diagnosed.

  1. Pain Management
  2. Mobility management

Pain Management

A pain management program can include:

  • Medications – Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Drug free modalities – Acupuncture – Laser Therapy – Shockwave – Pulse Electromagnetic Therapy

Mobility Management

Rehabilitation therapies to include:

  • Arthritis injections – these can help in maintaining joint health and preventing further deterioration of joint cartilage
  • Hydrotherapy (Pool and Underwater Treadmill)
  • Therapeutic Exercises – joint mobilisation
  • Therapeutic Massage – Myotherapy

Things Not to Do if you think your dog has Arthritis

  1. Buy supplements and products without seeing your vet first. Although there are dozens of products on the market that claim to assist in the management of osteo-arthritis in dogs, they are not designed to be a complete treatment. You could also be wasting your money on these products if your dog has something else going on.
  2. Make assumptions that your dog has arthritis just because he or she is getting older
  3. Use human pain medications. These are NOT designed for animals and can be extremely harmful when given to your pets.

But Won’t this all cost more?

In the long term. Probably Not. We see many people wasting their money on therapies and medications that are not working for them at all. And most of these don’t come cheap. By investing in a correct diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan ensures that both you and your best mate are getting the most benefit from every dollar spent.

So – what are your thoughts?

Worth getting a diagnosis? We think so.

7 Ways we Can help your Dog with Osteoarthritis