Osteoarthritis is common in dogs. Causes include developmental orthopedic diseases (such as hip dysplasia and osteochondrosis). These negatively impact joint health early in life, especially in large breeds. Other causes include cranial cruciate ligament injury, joint fractures or dislocations, autoimmune disorders, infections, age and obesity. These diseases involve inflammation and loss of joint fluid, resulting in poor lubrication and cartilage nutrition.
Adult cartilage has a limited healing capacity. When damaged, it is replaced by scar tissue that cannot withstand the wear and tear that healthy cartilage can easily accommodate. If left unchecked, this process becomes a cycle of joint damage with inflammation, further reducing cartilage nutrition and leading to even more damage and inflammation.
Ways to keep joints healthy include maintaining a healthy weight and being active, reducing inflammation in injured or severely affected joints, and feeding proper nutrition to promote cartilage health. Omega-3 fatty acids enhance joint fluid quality, while chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine protect cartilage. These and boswellia, willow bark, and bromelain have anti-inflammatory effects for inflamed joints.
Innovative therapies using platelet-rich plasma extracts and culture-expanded stem cells, combined with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, also improve joint health and magnify and prolong beneficial clinical effects.
Dr. Federico Latimer is a Board-Certified Veterinary Surgeon. He earned his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University in 1984 and was in private practice in Puerto Rico until 1987. He has worked on the surgical faculties at the University of Tennessee, North Carolina State University, Oregon State University, Louisiana State University, and The Ohio State University.