The Link Between Obesity and Canine Arthritis

Canine arthritis

As dog parents, we want to ensure that our pets feel loved. We often do this by feeding them excess treats, resulting in weight gain, obesity, and canine arthritis.

It's estimated that over 50 percent of cats and dogs in North America are obese or overweight. Even though everyone knows that weight is a major risk factor for several diseases in humans, some dog parents are not aware of the threats of those extra pounds on their canine friends.

The Link Between Obesity and Canine Arthritis

In canines, the relationship between obesity and osteoarthritis is just starting to get investigated. The results of one study in dogs suggested that preventing the development of obesity lowers the prevalence of hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis of the hip and other joints.  

Nevertheless, being overweight does lead to joint wear and tear, potentially leading to arthritis that becomes more severe over time. Fatty tissues are also linked with bodily inflammation. This can cause an additional breakdown of delicate joints.

Owing to the pain and the additional effort needed to move around, overweight or obese pets are highly likely to be inactive. The more uncomfortable your dog is, the less it'll want to move and the more pain it's going to experience. This aggravates the inflammation cycle, obesity, and arthritis pain.

Arthritis Symptoms in Dogs

Canines are pros at hiding their pain. However, as a dog parent, you need to keep an eye out for any changes in your dog's behavior that might point towards arthritis.

For instance, you might notice that your pet is reluctant to do things that they previously actually enjoyed. Moreover, depending on the affected joints, you might see your pet limping or using one or more legs more than the others. If the spine is affected, your canine might even experience lameness in one or both hind legs. In addition, joint inflammation can also make the affected area sensitive to touch.

Managing Arthritis Pain

Weight loss is one of the best ways to manage arthritis pain in dogs. Losing weight will reduce the progression of joint damage and even enhance blood flow to the joints, which helps minimize inflammation.

Losing weight is best done through a combination of a low-calorie diet and increased exercise. Ideally, you should get a customized prescription diet from your vet. Such diets aren't just low in calories but also help your canine feel full for longer.

You should also start with slow, gentle exercise to minimize risk. Walking is highly beneficial for arthritic dogs. Apart from that, swimming is also a great exercise for dogs in the summer months. Before engaging your dog in more strenuous exercises, speak to your vet to minimize the risk of injury.

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Along with exercise and dietary changes, medications and supplements can also be extremely effective at lowering arthritic pain.

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