Degenerative arthritis (AKA osteoarthritis) is a common and oftentimes painful joint condition that affects as much as 20% of the Chihuahua population. Chihuahuas suffering from this condition may exhibit signs of general discomfort and weakness around their joints, making it difficult for them to walk normally. While there's no cure for canine arthritis, there are ways to slow down its progress and help deal with pain management. Whether you believe your Chihuahua is suffering from this condition or not, it's recommended that you educate and familiarize yourself with canine arthritis.
Some owners brush off their Chihuahua's arthritis as a non-concerning issue. The good news is that it typically doesn't result in any life-threatening complications. However, the bad news is that arthritis can be a painful and even debilitating condition that makes it difficult for a Chihuahua to easily move around. As a loving and caring owner, it's up to you to make sure your Chihuahua is healthy and happy.
Arthritis Symptoms and Signs
Think your Chihuahua is suffering from arthritis? As previously stated, it's a degenerative condition that becomes worse the older they are. Chihuahuas in the early stages of arthritis may not exhibit any symptoms at all, making it difficult for owners and even professional veterinarians to diagnose. On the other hand, older Chihuahuas in advanced stages of arthritis will likely exhibit a variety of more easily identifiable symptoms.
Here are some of the symptoms and signs that your Chihuahua may be suffering from arthritis:
- Yelp in pain when you pick them up.
- Holding one or more legs up as they walk.
- Less likely to jump up on the couch or other furniture.
- Spending more time in their bed rather than running around the house like they normally do.
- Sudden, unexplained weight gain.
- Lowe levels of physical activity and endurance.
- Loss of interests in toys and other forms of play.
If your Chihuahua is exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, you'll want to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. While these are all common signs associated with this common joint problem, they don't necessarily mean your Chihuahua is suffering from arthritis. The only way to determine if your Chihuahua is truly suffering from arthritis is through a thorough examination from a qualified, professional veterinarian. This is typically done through physical examinations along with an X-ray.
The earlier you can diagnose arthritis in your Chihuahua, the better. As previously stated, it's a degenerative condition that gets worse over time. Waiting until your Chihuahua is yelping in pain before seeking treatment will make the condition more painful and difficult to deal with. This is why it's important to take your Chihuahua to the veterinarian for a thorough examination from the moment you suspect arthritis is troubling them.
Treatment Options For Chihuahuas Suffering From Arthritis
When it comes to arthritis, it's best to take a proactive approach to slow down its progress. You can't give your Chihuahua a magic pill to make their condition go away, but you can dramatically slow its progress, which should be your primary goal. If you aren't doing so already, incorporate glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate into your Chihuahua's diet. These compounds are known to have a positive impact on joint health in both animals and humans. When used together, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate both reduce the degradation of joint cartridge and help to build it at the same time.
You should also be aware of your Chihuahua's weight, as obesity may speed up and worsen the effects of arthritis. The additional fat causes a greater amount of pressure on their joints, which then leads to arthritis. If your Chihuahua is overweight, you should work on changing their diet and incorporating more physical activity into their daily routine. See more about helping an obese Chihuahua lose weight here.
Surgery should only be used as a last resort to treat arthritis in a Chihuahua. Depending on the type of arthritis your Chihuahua has and where the most problematic areas are, surgery could do more harm than good. For this reason, it's recommended that you exhaust all of the other forms of treatment before considering surgery. However, in severe situations, surgery could be used as a last resort.
Arthritis treatments are generally designed to either treat the pain or the joint problem itself. Treating the joints is necessary to slow the progress of arthritis down, while treating the pain is done to increase the Chihuahua's quality of life. These are both essential steps towards dealing with arthritis.
Physical therapy could also be a viable form option for treating arthritis in a Chihuahua. Allowing them to swim around works out there muscles without placing pressure on their joints. Depending on the specific type of arthritis your Chihuahua is suffering from, this could alleviate slow down its destructive progress.
Arthritis pain management options (note: always talk to your veterinarian before administering any medication to your Chihuahua):
- Install carpet flooring as opposed to slick hardwood or laminate. Surfaces such as these may place a greater strain on your Chihuahua's joints. Alternatively, you can also lay out area rugs where your Chihuahua commonly travels.
- Talk with your veterinarian about placing your Chihuahua on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Aspirin. When a proper dosage is administered, it can prove helpful in relieving some of their pain and joint inflammation.
- If your dog gets on the bed or couch, consider using a ramp or padded doggie stairs so they don't have to jump.
- Make sure your Chihuahua is well hydrated with a 24/7 access to fresh water.