This disease is the most common disorder of the joints in small-sized animals, especially in dogs. In spite of it usually affecting dogs older than seven years old, this disease is nowadays frequent in both big and miniature-sized younger dogs, even in puppies, which is generally as a consequence of some congenital defects, like hips or elbows displasia, shoulder osteocondritis or knee dislocation, especially in those dogs where the breeders have not tried to eliminate the disease.

There are some predisposing factors for the Degenerative Osteoarthritis: certain breeds (for instance, Golden Retriever, Alsatian and Rottweiler) are prone to the disease. Obesity and certain alimentary deficiencies during the growing stage, especially in big-sized dogs, can also attribute to it. Basically, the Degenerative Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage layer that is protecting the bone, gets altered and as a result, its uniformity and thickness get reduced. The bone gets worn out and some bone deformities, called osteofitos, arise causing more pain and damage. The capsule around the joint gets thicker and the sinovial liquid that acts like a lubricant and a shock absorber loses its consistency and functionality. The joint gets more and more painful and less mobile.

If the Degenerative Osteoarthritis is a consequence of another previous condition that is causing a defect in the joint, like hips or elbows displasia, damaging or breaking a ligament, knee dislocation, etc., surgery is recommended to try to repair this problem and prevent the progress of the degeneration of the joints.

The control of the pain is fundamental in the treatment of this disease in order to improve the animal’s quality of life. There are lots of non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications for this purpose and that must be always prescribed by a professional. Be careful with the anti-inflammatory medicines for humans, since some of them might cause great damage in the animal’s gastric juices. Recently, we have had hospitalised a puppy with hip displasia. Its owners decided give it diclofenaco for some weeks to control the pain. The animal needed three blood transfusions, stomach surgery and two weeks in hospital to recover.

The use of medicines that benefit hydration and joint regeneration, (glucosamin, condroitin-sulphate, hialuranic acid, etc.), can help a great deal to treat Degenerative Osteoarthritis and improve the animal’s quality of life.

Don’t forget diet control for the animal to prevent obesity. Lately, special diets have appeared that combine a suitable calorific contribution, with excellent quality proteins and supplements of condro-protector substances for animals with joint problems. It is also recommended to do light and regular exercise, like walking on the beach and swimming to recover the muscular mass. Never make the animal take strong or intense exercise because the animal may be worse the following day.

Article written and supplied by Paco,

Clinica Veterinaria Puerto de Mazarrón.