Arthritis in Dogs, a Guide to Spot Early Signs and Symptoms

Pictures of dog arthritis, images not so easy to shake

When  your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis it most likely will leave you worried about how this will affect his quality of life experience but more so are NSAID like Rimadyl a safe pain relief treatment for arthritis in dogs

How do you know if your dog has arthritis?

Arthritis in dogs is one of the more common age related diseases in older dogs and most often it is the result of a breakdown of cartilage within the joint which triggers a process of inflammation and further damage gradually results in a painful disease of arthritis.

Arthritis in Dogs - Labrador Retriever

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Unfortunately due to contemporary breeding methods  arthritis has become mainly a disease of elderly large breed dogs. However, as our abilities to recognise arthritis in dogs has tremendously improved over the years is also is clear that arthritis is not only related to old age and there are certainly individuals who are at greater risk of suffering from this very painful disease,

High ranking on the list of breeds that are predisposed to arthritis  are breeds such as the Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd who regrettably are  prone to develop a condition called hip dysplasia, that is a deformation of the hip joint resulting in the joint not forming properly.

However, not only the bigger dog breeds are prone to develop arthritis as other, smaller, breeds have intentionally been bred with shortened and twisted legs resulting in misformatted joints and abnormal forces acting through them resulting in (too) heavy wear that in time absolutely will take its toll,

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The next major issue on the list of (possible) reasons of why dogs can develop joint problems over time is obesity and unfortunately it is a given sign of time dogs becoming overweight is more and more of a problem with up to fifty four percent of our dogs being overweight or obese. The negative effects of obesity in dogs should never be underestimated as it had become clear that overweight dogs are at serious risk of developing arthritis three years earlier from the same dog were it to maintain a normal body weight.   

Arthritis in Dogs - German ShepherdThere are of course other conditions that make the development of arthritis more likely, such as previous joint damage as result of fractures and / or  joint infections and /  or ligament injuries. Unfortunately, the bigger breeds again can be found at the top of the list as cruciate ligament damage is  one of the main reasons for young growing large breed dogs to develop osteochondrosis which is a joint developmental abnormality.

Regarding the issue of longevity I guess we all want our dogs to stay with us for a much longer time than the ten to twelve years they on average are allowed the be a part of our life. However, age perhaps is the final biggest risk factor for our dogs to develop arthritis and, as we all know too well, we can’t turn back the clock.

We briefly touched upon the topic of what is arthritis, why certain breeds of dogs are more prone to develop this painful disease and how contemporary breeding methods are linked to not only the development but also the continued existence of this illness.

To broaden our understanding of arthritis in dogs we now will take this one step further and take a look at the (clinical) signs and symptoms of this disease and later on we will talk about what options are available for treating this illness and why not every  treatment plan is appropriate for every individual dog and why treatment plans will have to change over time.

The anatomy of a (healthy) joint

A normal joint is made up of bone covered with a layer of cartilage –  a tough, elastic, connective tissue, produced by special cells, acting as a lubricant to insure the smooth friction free movement of the joints.

During  the early stage of arthritis the surface of the cartilage layer becomes disrupted and a breakdown of the cartilage structure normally will follow. In a reaction to the breakdown of the cartilage layer the (healthy) body will try to counteract this by producing more cartilage cells to repair the already increasing damage. Unfortunately in most cases the dog’s body will not be able to keep up with the damage being done to the cartilage layer and eventually to the underlying bone structure.

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When the cartilage layer is  becoming too thin it will lose its protective function exposing the underlying bone which, in response to this, will start to form new bone cells to compensate for no longer being protected by the cartilage. The boost in new bone matter will result in thickening the affected areas in an effort to stabilse the joint. With the receding of the cartilage the joint will no longer be “lubricated”  causing an increasing level of friction between the bones in the joint. Movement, once smooth, is quickly becoming into a – literally – bone grinding exercise which in itself will increase inflammation in the joint.

From here things will start to deteriorate quickly as a downward spiral of inflammation, cartilage breakdown,  formation of new bone and then further inflammation has been entered.

Depending on the underlying cause or problem the process of deterioration can develop very quickly sometimes it will be even a matter of months or in other situations it can be a slowly moving  process taking several years to progress into completion.

Spotting early arthritis

How do we know dog has arthritis? Well, the easy answer would be because it will start limping. Although, over simplified as it may be, the answer by itself is not completely wrong or right, for that matter. The thing is our dogs are individuals and as such well capable of displaying a full array of personal traits and behaviour, not in the least in letting us know they’re in pain. Therefore, the following can only describe (some of) the on average symptoms of early arthritis and you, being a responsible owner, will have to draw upon everything you know about your dog’s behaviour to translate (and expand upon) this to your dog’s communications with you.

In most cases often the first sign is a mild intermittent lameness or limping that happens after a long walk or other amount of exercise. Sometimes the first signs of lameness may be seen shortly after  returning from the walk, but more often – just like with us humans – it will be actually not before having had a good rest that our dog will appear to be (somewhat) stiff or even the first signs of lameness. Therefore it is most likely the first symptoms of the early stage of arthritis will manifest themselves not until that evening or even the following morning, this of course depending on the time of the walk.

After showing the first signs of early arthritis the frequency as well as the severity of the lameness will increase rapidly and quickly the point will be reached where your dog can only endure short walks not being able to keep up with your usual speed of walking.

There are of course many other reasons for our dogs to appear to be (a little) stiff or even develop a (slight) lameness which will make drawing the right conclusion about our dog is suffering from a beginning arthritis not a simple task at all.

However, there are some signals that can guide us in interpreting our dogs’ body language, that is, during the early stages of arthritis it may look like all stiffness will disappear after our dog will give its muscles a thorough stretching once it feels well rested. The weather can also be a factor of importance as lower temperatures and wet conditions may trigger early signs of arthritis or may an existing condition seem worse.

Unfortunately neither of the above mentioned can be mistaken for what is the real cause of our dog becoming stiff and lame as the illness will progress into the advanced stages of arthritis where the stiffness and lameness will become of a more permanent nature.

I think you will agree with me in saying that arthritis, as a disease, is too serious and painful for our dog to not take any early signs seriously and to seek advice from a qualified veterinarian as quickly as possible.

At the beginning of this article the question was raised whether NSAID medication like Rimadyl can be considered a safe treatment for dogs suffering with arthritis and although the pharmaceutical companies and associated vets over the years have done their utmost best selling NSAID medication to all of us as the best pain relief treatment for arthritis in dogs the number of complaints from dog owners claiming to have lost their dog to Rimadyl haven been on a steady increase as well.

Make sure to read the post 350 Real Life Stories from dog owners and decide for yourself if Rimadyl and other NSAID medication can really be considerate as a safe pain relief treatment for dogs suffering with arthritis.

What are the Rimadyl side effects in Dogs?

What are the Rimadyl side effects in dogs? Rimadyl was released by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in 1997 as a new “wonder drug” treatment for arthritis and joint problems in dogs. However, although Rimadyl is very effective in reducing inflammation and pain in affected dogs, it is now known to cause a number of potentially serious side effects in dogs, particularly the Labrador retriever breed of dog.

Before being prescribed Rimadyl, it is very important that a veterinarian runs blood tests on your dog to rule out any underlying health problems that could lead to a reaction with Rimadyl. If the results indicate that the dog might already have impaired liver function, use of Rimadyl should be ruled out immediately as it could lead to serious illness or death. Dogs with kidney disease or bleeding disorders should also not be prescribed Rimadyl.

What are the Rimadyl side effects in dogs?

The majority of dogs suffer no side effects from taking Rimadyl, but a small minority unfortunately DO experience serious side effects as a result of taking the drug, so it is very important that you are vigilant at all times and monitor your dog for signs or symptoms of a potentially life threatening reaction to Rimadyl. For reasons as yet unknown, Labrador retrievers are particularly at risk of serious side effects cause by Rimadyl and should not be prescribed Rimadyl.

Side effects of Rimadyl include:

Within a time frame of one to three hours the following symptoms can become visible in your dog with respect to how much Rimadyl was administered to your dog.

Symptoms to watch for are:

  • A loss of appetite and unwillingness to drink
  • Changes in urination patterns: sweet smelling urine, blood in the urine, and/or urinating far more than usual
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Vomit or stools containing blood
  • Changes in skin, including scabs, redness, itching
  • Change in normal temperament: lethargy, drowsiness, restlessness, aggressiveness, hyperactivity
  • Stumbling, staggering, partial or full paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Jaundice: yellow whites of the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes
  • Death

The side effects of Rimadyl are mostly attributable to liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal problems: in some dogs, Rimadyl causes ulceration and bleeding in the gut, damage to the kidney function, and liver failure, all of which are potentially fatal.

Side effects of Rimadyl can occur with hours of taking the drug, which is why pet owners must be extremely vigilant once Rimadyl has been administered to their dog. In other dogs, adverse symptoms do not appear until a few days have passed. Initially the dog might seem a little off colour—perhaps off its food and more lethargic than normal.

What should I do if my dog appears to be suffering from Rimadyl side effects?

If your dog has been given Rimadyl and you suspect it has had an adverse reaction to the drug, there are a number of steps you should take without delay. Firstly stop giving Rimadyl to your dog immediately, and then take the dog to your veterinarian clinic and tell them you suspect Rimadyl toxicity is the culprit. If the adverse effects of Rimadyl are caught quickly enough, the right course of treatment can be given and the dog should recover. However, it is a good idea to keep accurate records of your dog’s symptoms and treatment in the event that you need to make a claim against Pfizer for a refund of your veterinarian expenses.

What is Rimadyl and when should I use it?

What is Rimadyl and when should I use it? Rimadyl is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug manufactured by Pfizer. The drug, also known as Carprofen, has been available since 1997 and is a very effective treatment for arthritis, but it is also known to have some serious side effects and should therefore be used with extreme caution at all times.

Many breeds of dog suffer from arthritis as they grow older, and without effective treatment, the condition can cause a great deal of pain and loss of movement. As the dog ages, the cartilage in the joints slowly begins to deteriorate, which eventually leads to the symptoms of arthritis, and as in humans, arthritis is associated with stiffness and pain. Such problems are especially prevalent in the larger breeds of dog, and because arthritis is such a degenerative disease, drugs such as Rimadyl can often be highly beneficial in helping to improve the quality of life of geriatric dogs.

However, as with all drug treatments, both in pets and humans, there are often side effects, and what is effective in one patient is sometimes unsuitable for another. Because of this, it is important to be aware of the side effects of Rimadyl and take this into consideration before administering the drug to your beloved pet dog.

What is Rimadyl and when should I use it?

Rimadyl was developed by Pfizer to treat the symptoms of arthritis in dogs, but the drug has also been found to be effective in treating pain and inflammation experienced by dogs with other types of degenerative joint problems such as hip dysplasia. The drug works by inhibiting the production of Cyclooxygenase (COX-2), an enzyme that is part of the body’s inflammatory response

Not all dogs are suitable candidates for Rimadyl and Pfizer recommends that all dogs are screened for potentially dangerous health disorders before Rimadyl is prescribed for arthritis or anti inflammatory pain relief. It is also important that dogs taking Rimadyl are kept under close observation for possible side effects during the treatment plan and periodic blood tests should be undertaken to ensure liver function remains healthy. Should any adverse symptoms of side effects be observed, dog owners should stop giving Rimadyl to their dog and seek veterinarian advice immediately.

Although Rimadyl was primarily developed for the treatment of arthritis and degenerative joint problems, Rimadyl is also administered by veterinarians to reduce swelling and provide pain relief following surgical spaying and neutering of dogs.

Can Rimadyl be prescribed for use with other drugs?

Rimadyl should never be used concurrently with other NSAIDs such as aspirin. It should also not be given to dogs that are already taking corticosteroid hormone treatments.

Whilst the drug is extremely effective in relieving pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and degenerative joint problems in dogs, there are many instances where it is not advisable to administer Rimadyl and the benefits should be carefully weighed up against the potential risks before giving Rimadyl to your dog.

Rimadyl Overdose: Is Rimadyl dangerous for my dog?

Rimadyl is a very common treatment for arthritis in dogs. The drug is typically prescribed by veterinarians for aging dogs who are finding it hard to run around as they used to without a lot of pain, but Rimadyl can also be given to dogs suffering from other joint problems such as hip dysplasia. However, in light of a great deal of negative publicity related to serious side effects in dogs after taking Rimadyl, what about a Rimadyl overdose: is Rimadyl dangerous for my dog?

The exact figures for the number of dogs negatively affected by Rimadyl is not known, but the figures are high enough to cause concern amongst pet owners all over world, especially since Rimadyl is routinely prescribed by many vets without necessarily offering any warnings about potential adverse reactions to the dog’s owner.

Rimadyl overdose: is Rimadyl dangerous for my dog?

Taking too much of any drug is never a good thing and giving an overdose of Rimadyl to a dog is no different. If Rimadyl is prescribed at the correct dosage for the dog’s weight, you are unlikely to have any problems, but if excess Rimadyl is given, the drug can cause a number of serious health problems including liver and kidney failure.

What is the correct dosage for Rimadyl?

Rimadyl dosage is based on the bodyweight of the dog: 1mg per 1Ib. Rimadyl comes in caplet or chewable tablet form and can either be given to the dog at the vets, or bought online and administered to the dog at home, although you are always advised to only give Rimadyl to a dog under veterinarian supervision because of the potential side effects.

What are the signs of Rimadyl overdose in a dog?

The signs of a Rimadyl overdose in a dog are virtually the same as those caused by an adverse reaction to the drug, namely vomiting, diarrhoea, black and tarry stools, dizziness, confusion, seizures, and ultimately death.

Never underestimate the seriousness of a Rimadyl overdose in your dog—taken in large amounts or in conjunction with certain other medications, including aspirin, Rimadyl is very toxic and will cause liver and kidney failure, gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeding, and eventually, death.

Some dogs experience a bad reaction almost immediately after being given Rimadyl. When this occurs, the dog will require immediate veterinary attention in order to minimise the seriousness of the reaction and to prevent the dog from dying. In other cases adverse reactions caused by a Rimadyl overdose can take a few days or longer to show.

What should I do if I am concerned about a Rimadyl overdose?

If you have unwittingly given Rimadyl to a dog that is already taking a conflicting mediation such as aspirin or corticosteroids, you will need to monitor the dog closely and if you see any sign of a bad reaction, take it to the vets immediately. It can often take a few days for the signs and symptoms of liver damage to manifest, so be alert to tell-tale symptoms such as excessive thirst, lethargy, unsteadiness, jaundice, and eventually seizures.

What is the accurate Rimadyl dosage for Dogs and Puppies?

Rimadyl is a popular drug that is typically prescribed to dog suffering from arthritis and joint problems, although it can also be used to treat inflammation and to relieve pain after surgical procedures. Most of the time, Rimadyl is prescribed by veterinarians and you do not need to be concerned about accurate dosing as your vet will take care of such issues, but for those who wish to save money and buy Rimadyl online, what is the accurate Rimadyl dose for dogs and puppies?

Rimadyl is also known as Carprofen. The drug is manufactured by Pfizer and can be purchased from veterinarians or online pet pharmacies. For first time usage, Rimadyl should always be prescribed through a veterinarian as blood tests are essential to ensure the dog is not suffering from pre-existing health conditions that could react adversely with Rimadyl.

However, for those dogs that have shown no ill effects or unwanted side effects from taking Rimadyl, it is possible to buy Rimadyl from online suppliers and save money in the process. For older dogs, Rimadyl can be successfully used to treat the symptoms of debilitating arthritis and joint problems, but giving Rimadyl to any dog long term is likely to be an expensive process.

What is the accurate Rimadyl dosage for Dogs and Puppies?

Of course it is always advisable to use Rimadyl prescribed by your vet as you then have access to long term aftercare and associated checkups for your dog, which is very important when using Rimadyl. Regular blood tests should always be carried out on any dog taking Rimadyl long term as there is a high risk of liver and kidney damage, or gastrointestinal problems such as stomach ulcers or internal bleeding.

If you intend on purchasing Rimadyl online, or you wish to check the dosage instructions on the Rimadyl prescribed by your vet, the recommended guidelines for Rimadyl dosage are 1mg per 1Ib of body weight. Rimadyl is normally available in caplet form or a chewable tablet and can be purchased per tablet, or in larger amounts.

What are the side effects of Rimadyl?

Rimadyl is very effective for the treatment of arthritis in dogs, but since the drug was first released in 1997, there have been a number of recorded side effects and fatalities resulting from giving Rimadyl to dogs. The exact figures are unknown, but the numbers of dogs suffering from serious side effects from Rimadyl is high enough to be of concern to pet owners, so if your dog has been prescribed Rimadyl, you must keep a close eye on the animal and seek veterinarian assistance immediately if you are at all concerned.

Known side effects of Rimadyl to watch out for are abnormal thirst or not drinking anything, dark stools or vomit containing blood, unsteadiness, lethargy, seizures, jaundice, and a general sense that your previously healthy dog is now rather unwell. In some cases the symptoms of a bad reaction to Rimadyl can come on very quickly, but in other cases the symptoms can develop over a few days or weeks, so it is important to be vigilant at all times.

What are the Rimadyl side effects in puppies?

Manufactured by Pfizer, Rimadyl (also known as Carprofen) is used to treat the symptoms of arthritis, hip dysplasia, inflammation, pain, and fever in dogs of all ages. However, although it is more likely to be used in older dogs since they are more likely to be suffering from joint problems such as arthritis, Rimadyl can also be given to puppies. What are the Rimadyl side effects in puppies?

Rimadyl is no different to any other drug—some animals will inevitably experience unpleasant side effects and in rare cases will die. However, Rimadyl is well documented as causing a number of very serious and potentially life threatening health problems, so before giving the drug to your puppy, you should make sure you are aware of these side effects and what the symptoms are.

Rimadyl is normally prescribed by a veterinarian for the relief of painful inflammation and stiffness caused by arthritis and other joint problems. Older dogs are often afflicted by arthritis, but puppies can also suffer from joint problems, especially the larger breeds such as Great Danes and Mastiffs. However, Rimadyl is also prescribed to help with pain relief in the aftermath of a surgical procedure, and it is very common for the drug to be administered following neutering and spaying operations.

Ideally a veterinarian should always run blood tests before administering Rimadyl to your puppy. This is to rule out any underlying kidney or liver disease. Rimadyl should also not be given to puppies with bowel problems or heart disease, and because of the high incidence of Rimadyl related side effects reported in Labrador retrievers, puppies of this breed should not be given Rimadyl.

What are the Rimadyl side effects in puppies?

Worrying symptoms of potentially lethal Rimadyl side effects include an increase in thirst or a refusal to drink, lethargy or hyperactivity, dark stools or vomit containing blood, wobbling and a lack of coordination, jaundice, seizures and fits. All of this symptoms point to bleeding in the gut, or a deterioration of liver and/or kidney function, so it is vital that you seek immediate veterinarian assistance if you notice any side effects whatsoever.

Rimadyl should never be mixed with other NSAIDs, including aspirin, or corticosteroids. If mixed with other drugs, it is possible for the puppy to suffer from a Rimadyl overdose, which can be fatal. Symptoms of a Rimadyl overdose are similar to Rimadyl side effects, but they are likely to occur a lot faster, so it is important that you do not deviate from the recommended dosage instructions if you are medicating your puppy at home.

What should I do if I am concerned about my puppy’s reaction to Rimadyl?

Puppies taking Rimadyl for any reason whatsoever should be monitored closely at all times. If you DO notice any symptoms that cause you concern, no matter how trivial, you should take the puppy to a veterinarian immediately as prompt attention can drastically reduce the chances of serious health problems developing as a result of taking Rimadyl.