Arthritis doesn’t discriminate. It affects not only people of all ages — including children — but also strikes our little short-legged friends, too. Dachshunds are more likely to become arthritic in their backs than other dogs. If you notice changes in mood and activity, or if your pet isn’t feeling his best you may suspect a cold or stomach virus— but it could be arthritis. In fact, arthritis affects 1 in 5 adult dogs in the U.S. and is one of the most common sources of chronic pain that veterinarians treat.
How do you know if it’s arthritis?
Your dog can’t explain what’s wrong with him, so it’s important to watch his non-verbal communication closely and take even subtle changes seriously.
Signs that your dog may have arthritis include:
- Favoring a limb
- Difficulty sitting or standing
- Sleeping more
- Seeming to have stiff or sore joints
- Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs
- Weight gain
- Decreased activity or less interest in play
- Attitude or behavior changes
- Being less alert
If your dachshund seems to have any of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks take him to your veterinarian for an arthritis evaluation, which will involve a physical exam and possibly X-rays. The best thing to do for your dog in managing his arthritis is to get a diagnosis and start a treatment plan as soon as possible.
Treating canine arthritis is similar to that of human osteoarthritis.
Therapies may include:
- A healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight.
- Working with your veterinarian to find a drug treatment that helps relieve the pain.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common form of pharmaceutical treatment for arthritis in dogs.
- You can also use over-the-counter pet treatments with your dogs, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
- Your veterinarian may prescribe both an NSAID and an over-the-counter treatment that together may help decrease pain and disease progression.
- The use of arthritis medication such as Rimadyl, (which failed clinical trials for humans), has reverted to the subjects of its previous testing: dogs, with great results in relieving skeletal back pain.
Never give your dog human medication without checking first with your veterinarian. Certain medications can be toxic to dogs — particularly acetaminophen and ibuprofen — and a safe dose will differ from a greyhound and a dachshund.
No matter how you decide to treat your dog’s arthritis, make sure you work with a veterinarian to ensure that you select a program that helps your best buddy.
What to do if your dachshund has been diagnosed with arthritis?
There are many things you can do to control the effects of arthritis, and even though these steps may not be as effective as corrective surgery, they can make an arthritic dog much more comfortable, and improve its quality of life. As a general step, you should keep the arthritic dog lean, and well-muscled. So don’t overfeed your dog, and do force him to do a little exercise.
There are some drugs called GAGS (for Glycosamino Glycans) that actually get inside the joint, and may even reverse some of the effects of arthritis. I’m also a very firm believer in giving older dogs antioxidants, which improve their general health and make them more resistant to arthritis. Another possibility is acupuncture, which has been very effective in reducing swelling and the level of pain associated with arthritis.