Does arthritis reduce a dog’s lifespan?

It definitely can, but there are many things we can do to prolong our dog’s quality of life and therefore extend their life. 

Arthritis is inflammation in the joint and it causes great pain and loss of mobility. If you have an arthritic dog you may find that your dog has difficulty standing up from lying, trouble going upstairs or jumping on the couch, they may be slowing down on walks, might be limping, might not like to be touched around that sore joint.

sign of pain in your dog

There are many signs of arthritis we need to be aware of. 

Courtesy of @Caninearthritismanagement

Statistics show that arthritis is the second leading cause of elective euthanasia. The reason that arthritis can lead to early euthanasia for your dog is because of the associated pain and loss of quality of life. If your dog has a lot of pain and weakness from arthritis you may find that their difficulty in standing up is a reason that they may become incontinent, meaning they can’t go outside in time to go potty so you find more accidents inside the house. Now incontinence can be caused by lots of other things which your vet needs to rule out but I’m aware of people feeling that this is a loss of quality of life and therefore put their dog down.

Another reason that arthritis leads to early euthanasia is that they are no longer able to walk and enjoy the adventures that they once did. You may see that they can’t walk as far and so they sit or you may notice that they have significant limping. This is not a sign of just getting old this is a sign of pain associated with arthritis and needs attention from your vet. Pain relief is of great importance for your dog. Some dogs don’t tolerate medication very well however it’s vital that you formulate a plan with your vet to find a solution to your dogs pain. Natural measures for pain relief can definitely be used however the most effective form of pain relief is medicinal and the importance of pain relief is not only that your dog isn’t suffering from pain but also because pain relief means they can keep moving which in turn means less stiffness, muscle loss and pain. Of course, it is certainly a delicate balance to find the right amount of activity for your dog. Too much activity can cause pain but so can too little activity.

Arthritis treatment needs a multidisciplinary approach this means we need to look at the solution in a variety of ways. This will include medication, supplements, changing activity, strengthening exercises, natural pain relief strategies and sell. Exercise particularly strengthening exercises, have been found to be an effective way to decrease pain and improve function just like Marlie who was only one year old when she had hip dysplasia and arthritis where she could move better and have less pain and also could postpone the need for surgery.

dog strengthening exercise

Strengthening exercises can help improve quality of life by decreasing pain and improving function. 

Now surgery could be needed when the damage in the joint is just too much for any supplements, massage or strengthening exercises to make any difference. The surgery is usually a joint replacement where part of the worn out bones are removed and replaced with metal, eliminating the worn out and painful parts to the joint.

To improve your dog’s quality of life you can also use a doggy pram. It means they can have a great quality of life as they can still get out and about with some activity but is helpful to ensure they don’t have to walk too far and be in too much pain. 

Another option to improve quality of life is a wheelchair for your dog. This may be more important if surgery can’t be performed and so it takes away the use of their rear legs so they don’t have pain with weightbearing but also helps them to keep moving. 

A doggy wheelchair can help improve quality of life. 

Sadly I feel that arthritis should not lead to euthanasia and I want to crush the statistic! Will you help me??

Please share this blog with other dog parents of senior or arthritic dogs who may find this helpful. 

If you want to know more about exercises to help your arthritic or older dog then you can head on over to Strong and Steady Canines Community Group and I look forward to welcoming you there.

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