Golden Retrievers are well-loved for being intelligent, loving and loyal to their families. They continuously rank as one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. They are happy, active dogs and this high energy level along with their larger size is partially why many Goldens will develop arthritis at some point in their life. It is devastating to a pet owner to watch a once thriving and active pet suddenly be slowed done by the pain and stiffness of arthritis. While there is no cure available and no way to predict which dogs will get the chronic joint disease, it is possible to help them live a more comfortable life even with arthritis. Being knowledgable about the early signs of joint issues and what treatments are available is important for all owners of Golden Retrievers.
Understanding the Risks Dog with arthritis will typically have it affect their hips, spine, knees and elbows. The pain and the stiffness they experience is the same as what a human with arthritis will feel. Goldens are genetically predisposed to both arthritis and hip and elbow dysplasia. Because a common secondary condition of dysplasia is arthritis it makes them even more at risk than many other breeds. Golden Retrievers are also hearty eaters and that ups their obesity rates. A study performed in 2012 revealed that over 60 percent of Goldens are overweight or obese. The stress extra weight places on the joints puts these dogs at an even higher risk.
Seeing the Signs It is important to choose Golden puppies that come from parents that are vet-certified as free of hip dysplasia. However, this only reduces the risk and does not guarantee that the dog will not develop the condition later in life. Early signs of a dog that is developing arthritis are those that always seek out warm places to sleep, have a decreased appetite or level of activity. Medical screening is recommended for dogs that rise slowly after a nap or have any type of limp. Cold, wet weather will often make the pain worse. A dog that is active on sunny days, but does not want to go out to play on a cold day is often feeling some joint discomfort.
Treating at-home Goldens with arthritis will get relief from sleeping on a raised, warm orthopedic dog bed. Place the bed in a draft-free area where they will have easy access to their food and water dishes. Ramps, rather than stairs, will make it easier for them to get in and out for their bathroom breaks and play time. Low-impact exercise is important to keep the joints limber and keep the pet at a healthy weight. Walking and swimming are excellent options and are the most beneficial if the sessions are done two or three times a day and kept short to prevent over working their joints. It is also important to keep their nails trimmed. Long nails makes it hard for dogs to walk correctly and the uneven gait can aggravate painful joints.
Getting Professional Help Arthritis is too painful for the caring owner to not seek out medical assistance for their friend. Regular massages from a certified canine massage therapist are often very relaxing for Goldens and some therapists offer classes to help pet owners learn the techniques to use at home. Physical therapy is also beneficial and provides some of the low-impact exercise they need. Veterinarians may suggest joint replacement or arthroscopic cleaning of the joints. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications are usually prescribed. Laser therapy is another option. This is an innovative and non-invasive treatment that is gaining in popularity. The dogs are awake during the treatment and do not experience any pain from the treatment. The light penetrates to the joint where it helps to improve blood circulation, reduces the sensitivity of the nerves and decreases the pain they are experiencing.
A diagnosis of arthritis is devastating to a loving owner who worries that it may reduce the lifespan of their best friend. It does have the potential to do so if its progression is not slowed, but careful owners have a lot of potential treatment options available to combat the disease. Being proactive about reducing the risks when the dogs are young is the best thing any Golden Retriever owner can do. Avoid aggressive play that may lead to injuries, keep the dog at a healthy weight and always choose the most nutritious diet possible. To learn more, contact a veterinary clinic like Cherokee Hospital for Animals.