What causes arthritis in Labradors?
Arthritis in Labradors is common, especially when your dog is aging. The most common form of arthritis in Labs is called osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease or DJD). You Labrador’s joints will take a certain amount of strain through their life. The once young and smooth joint bones get some wear and tear, causing them to become rough and rub against each other.
This could be very painful for your dog and causes inflammation in his joints. In a nutshell, the motion of joints becomes more restricted due to the joint degeneration. Arthritis can also be caused by trauma or stress previously put on joints. There are ways, though, to avoid this.
First, do not over-exercise your lab while its growth plates are still forming the first 24 months. In addition, avoid obesity that can put undue strain on the joints.
Another way is to add a joint supplement BEFORE regular arthritis sets in, such as NuJoint Plus. This can push off arthritis symptoms for many years. But first and foremost, don’t purchase a Labrador if the breeder does not have generations of good or excellent hip and elbow ratings with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
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Dog arthritis symptoms
If your dog has arthritis, it is not always easy to recognize when it begins, so ask your vet to check for early symptoms on your dog’s yearly check-up. However, when arthritis becomes more advanced you may be able to observe some of the following symptoms:
- Your dog may move a little slower
- He may get up or lie down more carefully
- His joints may be stiff upon awaking
- Weight gain
- Limping while walking
- Swollen joints
- Difficulty jumping or running
- Difficulty climbing stairs
- Sleeping more and avoiding exercise or play.
Different types of dog arthritis
Hip Dysplasia –
This is one of the most common forms of arthritis in Labradors, as some may already have a genetic disposition towards hip dysplasia. This can cause lameness as early as one or two years old if it is genetic.
Knees & Elbows –
The knees, shoulder and elbows are always a common place to get arthritis in Labradors because they receive strain when running and exercising. Your dog’s joints also take a lot of impact when jumping from higher places, over obstacles, or even playing rough with friends.
We cannot stop our dogs from playing and jumping, however, we can take precautions to reduce unnecessary strain. For instance, building a ramp where our dogs can safely walk up and down instead of jumping the distance.
Don’t encourage leaping in the air over a long period of time (i.e. for a Frisbee), especially during that first 24 months. Chasing a tennis ball for an hour of time can even be too much. Use discernment. A gentle walk at a normal weight and swimming are always good exercise.
When do Labradors usually get arthritis?
Just because your Labrador is a senior canine citizen, is not to say that he will automatically get arthritis.
Most Labradors may only develop arthritis later in their lives. Yet, now, more and more young pets are also getting the condition—either from lack of proper breeding or by severe over-exercise as a youngster.
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Start looking out for the signs and symptoms from the age of six to eight years to make sure your Labrador has healthy joints. If arthritis is diagnosed early enough, it can increase the success rate of repairing joints or at least stopping the degeneration of the joints. But do your homework when purchasing a Labrador so this does NOT happen at a young age.
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If you take this step of getting a puppy from a reputable breeder doing stringent health clearances, you can help avoid the heartbreak of a young dog succumbing to early onset arthritis and thousands of dollars in surgery or multiple surgeries.
How can I help my Labrador with arthritis?
If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, there are a few things you can do, besides having the correct medication, to make his life a little more comfortable.
A Glucosamine/Condroitin supplement is the first move. This will increase the synovial fluid in the joints and improve movement and reduce pain. For a good quality product, check out NuJoint Plus.
We’d also recommend using a ground breaking new product called “Cosequin” available on Amazon, but not in place of a glucosamine supplement. If arthritis gets severe, injections of Adaquin may be necessary and can bring good results, but they can be very pricey.
Comfy sleeping –
You can get your senior dog an orthopedic bed. If he has arthritis, he will find it difficult to sleep comfortably on a harder surface or on a bed that cannot assist in giving proper support.
Your dog will also sleep a lot more if he has arthritis, so best give him a place where this is not a painful experience. ‘Bully Beds’ are highly recommended and will last a lifetime.
When your dog has arthritis, most people stop exercising completely in order to avoid their dog suffering pain. However, your dog needs exercise now more than ever, as he needs to keep moving in order to not gain weight. Your dog gaining weight may make the problem considerably worse. Taking shorter or slower walks and swimming is a great, safe alternative.
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Labrador arthritis natural treatment
If you prefer using a natural treatment for your dog with arthritis, you can try a few of the following to prevent or treat arthritis.
- Add gelatin to your dog’s food daily. This will help strengthen collagen in their bones and joints.
- Feed your dog some yummy bone broth to help strengthen ligaments, joints, and bones. Here is a good recipe
- Make sure you put your dog on a very high quality food so that he gets all the nourishment he needs for his breed, age and size. We always recommend a good quality All Life Stages food to ensure you are feeding the right amount at each and every stage.
- Acupuncture and canine chiropractic can also bring relief for your Lab
Can a dog die from arthritis?
The good news is that your dog cannot die as a direct result of having arthritis, however, arthritis can definitely decrease his quality of life.
Arthritis is a progressive condition and it cannot happen overnight. It’s gradual. As long as you made a good choice when selecting a breeder, have kept him at a healthy weight and don’t over-exercise, there should be no reason for him to not lead a happy, long and fulfilled life after being diagnosed.
Many dogs still live well into their old age with arthritis. If surgery is necessary, it can be very costly. We recommend Pet Insurance so, should you find yourself in this dilemma, you are covered, and don’t feel forced to opt for euthanasia instead of treatment. No one wants to find himself or herself in that spot—EVER.
The most important thing for a Lab with arthritis is to keep in mind that they cannot tell you when they’re in pain, so keep a close eye on their behavior. A small limp may tell you that it is time for a vet visit.
Try to keep your dog pain free and comfortable if he has been unfortunate enough to show the beginning stages of DJD. Also: keep nails trimmed short—REGULARLY.
One of the greatest causes of lameness comes from the lack of attention to long nails which deform the paws and bones/joints within them. I can’t stress this enough. You should not be able to hear any ‘click, click’ when your dog walks on cement, wood or ceramic floors.
Now it’s your turn…please ask any questions you may have about arthritis in dogs or tell me what you think of this article below.