Arthritis in Chihuahuas - Diagnose and Treatment
Believe it or not, but our furry friends are vulnerable to the same diseases as us. And arthritis is among them. Also called Osteoarthritis, it is an extremely painful joint condition that develops due to different reasons among 20% of Chihuahuas today.
Causing pain in the joints, arthritis makes it hard for your Chihuahua to walk or even stand properly. That is why the first symptoms of this disease are usually weakness and loss of mobility.
The bad news, there is no cure for canine arthritis. It means that if your dog has developed one, the disease will become chronic, with symptoms worsening and relieving from time to time. However, there are numerous supportive and prophylactics methods that don't only make your Chihuahua's life easier in case he or she develops the condition but can even prevent it if you take all the necessary precautions before your dog demonstrates any symptoms.
In this article, we shall explain how to notice the very first signs of developing arthritic in your Chihuahua and what you can do to prevent the disease or support your furry friend once he or she gets it.
Is Arthritis Dangerous For Chihuahuas?
It is the first question you might be asking yourself once you notice the first symptoms of the disease or your vet warns you that your Chi might be prone to canine arthritis. Let's put it like this, the arthritic itself is not a life-threatening condition. For many breeds, including Chihuahuas, arthritis is one of the most common health conditions that develop at the adult age. Therefore most dog owners see it as a natural course of events for the animal. Your dog may easily live for several more years after being diagnosed with the disease. The question is, what kind of life would it be?
Ask any senior citizen with arthritis, and you will know that the disease causes a lot of pain. Due to the specifics of the nervous system, dogs have a different threshold than humans. However, pain is pain. And although the joint condition itself does not lead to any fatal health complications physiology, it can seriously alter your dog's life quality and mental health.
Here are the most common outcomes of canine arthritis:
- Due to the loss of mobility, your dog may start gaining weight, which can lead to cardiovascular diseases and other complications
- Pain and physical discomfort cause anxiety, which always ends up in severe and permanent behavior issues, which will be harder to treat as long as the pain continues
- Although your dog can live for several years after being diagnosed with arthritis, lower life quality and the health conditions that can develop in the background will still lead to a much shorter life expectancy
So, on the one hand, artists are almost inevitable for more than 20% of Chihuahuas, and therefore it is indeed a pretty natural course of events for the breed. However, this fact does not mean that you can swipe the condition of your mind and deprive your dog of a chance for a longer, healthier and happier life.
What Are The Symptoms of Arthritis in Chihuahuas?
Arthritis is not the kind of disease that reveals itself instantly in one day. It is the so-called degenerative condition. It means that the disease can develop for several years before you or even your dog are aware of it. It can reach pretty advanced stages before owners or even professional vets start noticing the first symptoms. However, the earlier you manage to recognize arthritic in your Chihuahua and start proper treatment, the less impact it will have on your dog's health and lifestyle.
Another thing to remember is that the symptoms of arthritis may vary due to different factors such as the size of your dog, his or her overall health condition, diet, and lifestyle, as well as personal traits. Some dogs are "delicate flowers" that instantly indicate any sign of physical discomfort, while others will continue being active and playful even when the arthritis symptoms become pretty notable.
However, there are certain symptoms that may indicate that your Chihuahua may start developing arthritis:
- A dog may whine or yelp when you pick it up or touch around joints
- Your Chihuahua may start walking differently or limp
- A dog that has always been welcome at the furniture suddenly refuses to jump on the couch or bed
- Your Chi may become less playful and prefer to spend most of the day in the crate or bed
- Sudden weight gain
- A previously social and active dog starts avoiding physical contact or playtime with other dogs or people
All those symptoms may occur with any other health condition as well as cancer, heart disease, and others. Therefore, once you have noticed any of them, it is better not to try and treat your dog with arthritis remedies yourself, but take your Chihuahua to a vet. A professional will examine the dog thoroughly and diagnose the condition, so you can start the proper treatment authorized by an expert. Otherwise, you may lose precious time and waste a lot of money, energy, and nerves on treating the irrelevant condition.
How to Diagnose Arthritis in a Chihuahua?
There is a difference between noticing the first symptoms and diagnosing the disease itself. Usually, a series of standard tests combined with knowledge about the dog's general health condition is enough for a qualified vet to diagnose such a common condition as canine arthritis. However, in some cases, your vet may require an X-Ray for thorough diagnostics.
As we have already noticed, the time you are dealing with the condition worsens over time. That is why the earlier your Chihuahua gets diagnosed; the more chances you get to provide your pet with proper treatment. Not only your furry friend will suffer longer with untreated arthritis, but it may cost you much more money, effort, and nerves to treat your dog if you miss the precious time.
How to Treat and Support a Chihuahua Diagnosed With Arthritis?
There are two main things you want to do taking care of a Chihuahua diagnosed with arthritis:
- Relief the pain
- Slow down the joint degradation
As we have already noted, dogs have a different pain threshold than humans. Moreover, they cannot tell you directly where and how it hurts. That is why you need to pay some extra attention to your dog's behavior to indicate whether the pain is causing your significant pet discomfort and requires immediate treatment. If your dog refuses to eat, avoids physical contact, or wines and yelps every time, you touch or pick it up, discuss with your vet options to relieve pain as those side symptoms may lead to serious health and behavior complications. If your Chi does not demonstrate any severe pain symptoms, it is better to focus on the prevention of joint degradation as it is precisely what may cause painful symptoms in the future.
Make sure to introduce glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate into your Chihuahua's diet. There are numerous food supplies on the veterinarian market that contain those beneficial elements. Ask your vet to recommend the one that will fit your Chihuahua best, considering the stage of arthritis and your Chihuahua's overall health condition.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate significantly slow down the joint degradation process and even help to restore new tissues. Those are complementary elements which mean that they are most efficient once used combined—choosing supplies for your Chihuahua concentrates on those meant for joints precisely as they have the optimal proportion of those essential elements.
Another thing you may want to revise once your Chihuahua has been diagnosed with arthritis is the dog's diet. By becoming less mobile, dogs often tend to become overweight and even develop obesity, which can lead to serious health complications. Moreover, the extra weight itself increases the pressure on joints which can worsen the condition and make the treatment less efficient.
At the same time, if your Chihuahua refuses food due to severe pain, make sure to ask your doctor about additional pain-relieving solutions. Lack of nutrition is also dangerous for your dog's overall health and decreases the treatment's efficiency.
Just like with humans, physical therapy is one of the most efficient supportive treatments for arthritis. Strong and developed muscles reduce the pressure on joints which slows down the degradation process.
Swimming is the best way to develop your Chihuahua's muscles without increasing pressure on the joints. Luckily Chihuahuas don't really need too much place for swimming, so even the smallest swimming pool or even a bathtub can do the job. Let your Chi swim regularly. It will not only develop your dog's muscles but can help your pet work out extra energy and overcome obesity and other accompanying health complications.
Experts ensure that surgery is the last resort once it comes to treating arthritis, especially in such small dogs like Chihuahuas. Due to the miniature and delicate structure of their motor system and the fact that arthritis usually develops at an advanced age, surgery may do more harm to a suffering Chihuahua than no treatment at all. Therefore, before considering such a radical treatment, make sure that you have checked all other options.
How to Prevent Arthritis Among Chihuahuas?
Arthritis is like a lottery – there is a 20% chance that your Chihuahua may develop one. Some dogs live all their lives without any joint problems; others may develop it even earlier than supposed to.
However, there are certain factors that influence the course of events and can help you provide your Chihuahua a long painless life:
- A healthy diet full of proteins in a proper ratio for your dog's weight and lifestyle will help your dog's body to restore the damaged tissues faster, preventing joint degradation
- Physical activity. Make sure that your dog gets enough exercise and playtime. Stringer muscles support Chihuahua's motor system and decrease the pressure on joints. The same is true for weight issues. An obese Chihuahua simply squishes his or her joints while walking, making the disease reveal itself and develop faster
- Safety. Chihuahuas are pretty active and playful dogs. Some of them are also incredibly fearless. Make sure that your house is safe for the dog. If your Chihuahua is welcome on the furniture, arrange it the way that your furry friend does not have to jump too high while climbing or getting off the couch or bed
Arthritis is a pretty severe chronic condition that can cause a lot of physical discomforts. And although it is practically impossible to prevent the disease once your Chi is genetically prone to it, keeping an eye on your dog's behavior and habits as well as preventing potentially traumatic situations, you can delay the development of arthritis symptoms and provide your furry friend a longer, healthier and happier life.