Degenerative Joint Disease in dogs – which is often shortened to DJD – is better known as arthritis or osteoarthritis. If you’ve had a diagnosis of DJD, you’re going to want to know exactly what to expect, as well as how to manage this condition and keep your four-legged friend pain-free. So, let’s take a look at everything there is to know, including the best supplements to take to ease the symptoms.
What is Degenerative Joint Disease in dogs?
Put simply, DJD is another word for arthritis, or canine osteoarthritis. It’s a progressive condition where joints degenerate over time, and it’s the most common form of arthritis in dogs, particularly as they get older.
Why do dogs get DJD?
Wear and tear over the years puts a lot of stress on your dog’s bones and joints, just as it does with us pet parents. The articular cartilage in your dog’s joints naturally breaks down over time, which leads to increased friction and a decrease in range of motion. You might notice that the lower back and hind legs are often the first to be affected by pain and inflammation.
DJD can also come on because of a previous injury, or canine obesity. Oftentimes, larger breeds are disproportionately affected because of their increased size and weight, and the extra strain on their joints.
What are the symptoms of DJD in dogs?
If your dog starts to limp, you can take it as a sure sign that they’re in pain. Lameness in dogs can be due to an injury, especially if it comes on suddenly, so always get it checked out. Particularly in older dogs though, it could be a sign of inflammation due to arthritis. Here are some other common signs of possible DJD to look out for:
- Weight gain
- Yelping or retreating when stroked or touched
- Becoming slower on walks
- Becoming reluctant to walk at all
- Toileting accidents
- Difficulty climbing steps or stairs
- Difficulty jumping onto the couch or into the car
How can I prevent my dog getting DJD?
Your pup is at a much higher chance of developing DJD if he or she is overweight. If that’s the case, it’s really important to start a weight loss program led by your veterinarian. Obesity in dogs can be tackled with a low-calorie diet, and a reduction in weight is your greatest weapon in preventing DJD, or slowing it down.
Besides maintaining a healthy weight, you can take measures to prevent your dog from becoming injured, or from over-working their bones and joints. That’s particularly important if they’re involved in dog sports or agility training. Working dogs, or dogs who compete in agility, are put under more strain due to increased activity, so make sure you’re always looking out for your dog’s joint health.
Even at home and out on walks, it’s worth being mindful of activities that could add stress to your dog’s joints. This article about what happens to your dog’s body when they jump has some really interesting info.
Are there any supplements for joint health?
Boosting your dog’s diet with a supplement designed for joint care is a great way to help support joint and improve mobility. YuMOVE Joint Health Bites are soft chews that your precious pooch will actually enjoy eating, so there’ll be no dramas as they try to spit them out!
These supplements contain a concentrated dose of Omega-3s from ActivEase Green Lipped Mussel to ease joint stiffness, plus Glucosamine and Natural Chondroitin to support joint structure and healthy cartilage, and Hyaluronic Acid. The last one reaches your dog’s joints within two hours and promotes mobility by supporting lubrication and shock absorption. There’s also a bunch of other natural and nourishing ingredients including Manganese and Vitamin E, so you can be sure your dog is getting everything they need.
How is DJD in dogs diagnosed?
If you suspect your pup is suffering with joint pain, don’t wait to get it checked out. Head to your veterinarian, who can assess your dog, check for other causes, and give you a diagnosis.
They’ll carry out a variety of tests and assessments to see what’s causing your pooch pain, including checking out their medical history. They’ll also run some tests that could include:
- A physical exam where they’ll see how your dog responds when they gently manipulate their limbs
- An X-ray to look for changes in bone structure, or osteophytosis
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get a closer look at your dog’s ligaments
How is DJD in dogs treated?
DJD is a progressive disease, so treatment is a case of managing the condition and easing pain so your dog can still enjoy life to the full. Once you’ve had a diagnosis of canine arthritis from your vet, they may well prescribe your pup with pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication. As well as relieving the pain, this will mean your dog is able to continue exercising, which is really important to keep them mobile.
NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are a double-whammy when it comes to treating DJD – they control inflammation in the joints as well as providing pain relief. Never be tempted to give your dog any medication intended for human use, and always get a prescription from your veterinarian.
Other treatment options are more holistic and will include things like weight management, adjusting your dog’s exercise routine, and adapting their home environment so they can get around easily and not exacerbate their symptoms.
Should I still take my dog with arthritis for walks?
In a word: yes! Walkies are most definitely still on the cards for you and your canine companion, so don’t write off your regular trips out. Yes, you’ll need to adapt your routine to your dog’s abilities and avoid over-tiring them or making their symptoms worse. But regular exercise is key to maintaining mobility as well as your dog’s overall wellbeing. Take a look at our in-depth guide to exercise for older dogs if you need some inspo.
Is there a cure for DJD in dogs?
While there’s no cure for DJD in dogs, the prognosis for your pup can still be good, and affected dogs can still enjoy a great quality of life. The key to managing the condition is a combination of getting a quick diagnosis, maintaining your dog’s weight, and following any treatment plan or adapted exercise regime recommended by your veterinarian. That way your four-legged friend can and enjoy their golden years pain-free.