At an early age, your dog will probably be active, willing to run around and play. However, as the years go by, running may become more of a chore, both for you and your dog.
Arthritis is an age-related degenerative disease that affects humans and dogs. And since dogs age faster than humans, they may suffer from it much earlier.
Arthritis in humans is a common illness which affects the older population. It is characterized by joint pain, swelling, stiffness and a difficulty in moving. Although there are some physical manifestations of arthritis like knobbly fingers or knees, the extent of the damage is usually only visible with an X-ray. There are more than a hundred types of arthritis in humans, with the most common of them being osteoarthritis.
Arthritis is common in older dogs, but it can also affect younger ones, especially those with genetic disorders that lead to degenerative joints.
In both humans and dogs, identifying the disease early on can help prevent the adverse effects and maintain mobility, joint function and a healthy quality of life. Physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight will help both you and your pets.
Can Dogs Get Cortisone Shots for Arthritis?
A cortisone shot is an injection of an anti-inflammatory drug that can help ease the pain of arthritis in your dog. Arthritis in dogs has no known cure, so veterinarians prescribe cortisone shots to help them deal with joint pains and to reduce inflammation. It can stay on your pet's body for as long as 8 to 12 weeks, but the effects may start to decrease long before that.
Does My Dog Need Cortisone Shots for Arthritis?
Before even considering the possibility, your dog must show symptoms of arthritis.
At an early stage, symptoms of arthritis are usually very mild, but as time goes by, they may become more and more apparent to pet owners. It's recommended to watch out for heavy grunting sounds when your dog is moving, any reluctance to rise or move, visible deformities such as swollen joints, prolonged sleeping time, and disinterest in physical activity.
Depending on the type of arthritis, the causes may differ. Most cases usually develop because of an abnormal rubbing of the joints resulting from damage to their bone ligaments or cartilage. It can also be caused by trauma, such as fractures. Most of the time though, arthritis just comes with age, especially in big dogs.
Veterinarians usually suggest X-rays to pinpoint the affected joints, but they can also identify them by simple examination. In some cases, your vet may recommend the extraction of fluid from inside the joint to determine the possibility of other medical conditions causing the illness.
How Do I Treat My Dog's Arthritis with Cortisone Shots?
Cortisone shots are usually prescribed for dogs already suffering from arthritis. You should consider that they aren't a cure, but they can bring adequate pain relief from the rubbing joints.
Cortisone is a steroidal chemical with properties similar to cortisol, a natural hormone produced by the body which helps prevent inflammations.
For heavier or obese dogs, their joints work overtime to keep up with their body weight and will make the symptoms more severe, or they will show up earlier. That's why it's important to keep your dog at a healthy weight. Consult your vet to confirm your dog's adequate weight and diet.
You may also find arthritic-specific diets, usually sold at specialized pet stores, to help your dog reach his or her proper weight and also enrich their diet with supplements.
You will also help your dog reduce the risk of developing arthritis, postpone its appearance, or ease the pain if it's already present by providing a softer bed for your pet, and giving massages to stimulate blood flow.
Finally, you should consider making your home friendlier for your arthritic friend by providing non-skid floorings or adding padded steps or ramps to help them when they're moving around.
How is Arthritis Similar in Dogs and Humans?
Arthritis can be similar in causes, symptoms, and diagnosis for dogs, cats, and humans.
Arthritis manifests itself in the same way in dogs, cats, and humans, through joint pains and swelling, lameness and decreased mobility.
Veterinarians and doctors will check the patient's medical history and may perform X-rays.
Treatment and Prevention
If the patient is obese, weight loss is needed. Exercise, steroid shots such as cortisone shots may be given to arthritic humans or dogs to prevent inflammation.
How is Arthritis Different in Dogs and Humans?
The incidences of arthritis in dogs are much higher than they are in humans. In humans, approximately 7% of the population is affected by osteoarthritis, and 1% by rheumatoid arthritis. In dogs, osteoarthritis affects up to 20% of all dogs, and although rheumatoid arthritis is rare, it does occur in some cases.
A veterinarian will always be needed to prescribe cortisone shots for your dog. It is one of the treatments that may be used to lessen the inflammation of arthritic joints. However, steroidal injections like cortisone have been known to have side effects on your dog when used after a period of time. Those side effects may include excessive thirst and urination, bipolar mood changes, and in the long term, liver and kidney conditions.