What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?
Osteoarthritis, OA for short, is a joint disease that affects people as well as dogs. OA can be as painful for our dogs as it is for us. In healthy joints, a slippery tissue called cartilage cushions the ends of the bones in the joints. With OA, cartilage breaks down, causing pain and swelling. As OA gets worse, bone spurs can form, causing more pain and joint damage. When this happens, your dog may become less active or show signs of stiffness when getting up. However, OA can be difficult to recognize and your dog may not show any signs of OA. That’s why it’s important to talk to your veterinarian today about keeping your dog active and youthful. The earlier you start, the better chance you have of bringing out the puppy inside him.
OA Risk Factors
There are 4 main risk factors to consider.
- Age: Some dogs show signs as early as the age of one year. Most dogs will show signs of OA as they get older—80% by age 8.
- Breed: Certain large breeds like Labs, Retrievers, and Shepherds are more likely to develop OA at a young age. However, small to medium-sized dogs can have OA too.
- Joint issues: Hip dysplasia, knee problems, a ligament injury, and joint surgery can put your dog at risk for OA.
- Weight: It’s important to know the optimal weight for your dog’s breed. Try to keep him close to that weight to minimize stress on his joints.