This isn’t an easy topic to write about, too many feelings can go throw the head of someone thinking about putting his dog down. But let’s talk about canine arthritis, what chances do we have, and when it’s time to euthanize a dog with arthritis?

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is an inflammatory process of the joints and is a common problem for many dogs. It can cause pain, discomfort and stiffness. In dogs with arthritis, the cartilage within a joint becomes damaged, making it less smooth, and causing many of the bones in the joint to rub each other.

Meet Haida, she’s a senior dog with arthritis that gives hope.

Arthritis in Dogs

Like any other medical condition, arthritis may vary from dog to dog, that’s why we have stages from range 1-4. Each stage has its treatment and that’s what we want to point out here, there is always a chance, that will be different depending on the dog and the current stage.

Vets might advise you to euthanize your dog when it can no longer move or the bare minimum movement causes pain, but you always have to consult your vet.

Arthritis Stage 1

You probably don’t know that your dog has arthritis stage 1 because it has no displays of symptoms. This stage is used to refer to those dogs with preexisting conditions for the development of arthritis, like an injury joint or being a large breed. If you know your dog has any predisposition for having arthritis you can try:

  • Exercise: Doing low impact and short walks will help to keep the flexibility of the joints and will help with the general health of the dog. You wouldn’t want to push the joints affected by arthritis so keep it light.
  • Omega 3: Helps to reduce the inflammation of the joints.
  • Vitamin C and E: High doses of these vitamins can act as an anti-inflammatory, and you can find it on Cranberries, Blueberries, and Goji berries.

Arthritis Stage 2

This stage is hard to diagnose because your dog may have joint inflammation way before starting with lameness. You can notice a slight decrease in the activity or flexibility of your dog, but most commonly this stage of arthritis is found by accident on x-rays when you were looking for something else. The possible treatments for this stage are:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs at the low end of the dosage.
  • Adequan® injections show a very good rate of improvement after a month of treatment.

Arthritis Stage 3

At this point, your dog will be significantly affected on the daily activities by arthritis, could have lameness or just inactivity. You should try all stage 1 and 2 treatments plus:

  • Very low impact exercise.
  • Daily administration of NSAID drugs.
  • Additional nutritional supplements.

Arthritis Stage 4

We’re at the worst stage, here pain is severe, we have to try all the above to avoid reaching stage 4. The lack of mobility it’s life-threatening and if a dog can’t wake up or move anymore, is usually euthanized.

How Long Can a Dog Live with Arthritis?

That’s the real question, how much longer can we have our dogs with us, without having them suffer any kind of pain or discomfort.

Well, arthritis it’s not terminal, which means, if you treat it properly, you will prevent as much discomfort as possible, and your dog can have a normal lifespan, even in seniority.

Which Dog Breeds Are Prone to Have Arthritis

We’ve already talked about how large breeds are more likely to develop arthritis, but there are some dog breeds more prone:

  • German Shepherds,
  • Labrador Retrievers,
  • Golden Retrievers,
  • Great Danes,
  • Old English Sheep Dogs,
  • Rottweilers,
  • Dachshund,
  • Bulldogs,
  • Bassett Hounds,
  • Newfoundland Dogs,
  • Saint Bernard,
  • Mastiffs.

If you have any of these breeds, and you suspect it has arthritis, ask your vet, a quick x-ray can clear doubts. However, any dog breed of any size can develop arthritis if it has lived enough. You may want to have an eye on your pet, regardless of its age, breed, or size, just to make sure it doesn’t show any symptoms.

So, When to Euthanize a Dog with Arthritis?

Like any other chronic disease, monitoring is the more important (and right) thing to do, we talked about stage 4 of arthritis being the end of the road, you could still go on with the treatment using NSAID drugs, but the dog will still be in pain. But don’t worry there are plenty of treatments to do before reaching this point, and we have to try it, for our beloved dogs.

At last, the answer will depend on the dog, it’s still active? And the veterinary advice, is there any treatment left that will improve and extend the dog life? Always, always ask a vet which is the better choice.