Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) is a common arthritic disease of dogs involving joint fluid, cartilage and bone changes.
Osteoarthritis is generally regarded as a noninflammatory condition of articular cartilage resulting from natural aging, trauma, or disease. It has a considerable hereditary component and is considered to be a polygenic disease.
It may be observed as a primary (age-related) or secondary disease (often due to earlier joint injury, surgery, trauma or infection). Early stages of disease are characterized by chondrodysplasia as a result of proteoglycan loss and collagen network disorganization at or near the articular surface, leading to degeneration of the articular surface, loss of viscoelastic behavior of the cartilage surface, inflammatory exudates within the synovial fluid and development of osteophytes.
Osteoarthritis is commonly seen in older dogs, especially large-breeds.
Diseases associated with this condition include:
- Age-related - dogs usually over 10 years of age
- Long-term sequela to osteomyelitis
- Locked jaw syndrome (Temporomandibular osteoarthritis)
- Osteochondritis dissecans
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Cruciate ligament injury
- Radial agenesis
- Pes varus
Diagnosis is usually based on clinical history and supportive radiographic evidence of arthritis changes visible within joints.
In dogs with acute osteoarthritis, surgical intervention may be required, including arthroscopy and removal of joint osteophytes. With chronic hip dysplasia-related osteoarthritis, total hip replacement may be required. With vertebral osteoarthritis, such procedures as disc fenestration, arthrodesis or hemilaminectomy may be used judiciously.
Non-surgical intervention usually requires long term palliative treatment with NSAID-based medication such as carprofen, fentanyl, tramadol, meloxicam, robenacoxib, gabapentin or in severe cases, prednisolone.
Use of exercise has significant benefits in long-term therapy associated with osteoarthritis, and leash-held walking is recommended in dogs that are not unduly ataxic or in pain.
Adjunct medication such as pentosan polysulfate, glucosamine, amantadine, therapeutic diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin and root extracts of Brachystemma calycinum (an indigenous plant of southwestern China) have predictable improvements in clinical amelioration of symptoms.
Managing chronic pain is the critical aspect of this relatively incurable disease, affording as good quality of life as possible based on economic feasibility and response to medical and physical therapy.
- Langford Vets
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