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Arthritis in Weimaraners Explained

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Weimaraners are agile dogs and do not do well with sitting around. You can always find them doing one thing or another. They are always on the move, ranging anywhere from walking to jumping to exercising.

Thus, any form of reluctance to move may be an indicator your dog may have potentially contracted an illness or is otherwise injured.

If your Weimaraner shows difficulty standing up, starts to walk stiffly, or gets tired quickly, then there is a chance your Weimaraner may have arthritis.

In addition to the form of arthritis you may already be familiar with, another type of arthritis in dogs has become increasingly common in recent years.  This form of arthritis is known as infectious or septic arthritis.

Septic arthritis is bacterial, and it spreads through the bloodstream to the affected arthritic joint. This can result from a cut or break in the skin or an untreated urinary tract infection.

Additionally, outdoor and sporting dogs can also contract this type of arthritis from ticks.  If your dog has acquired Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme Disease from a tick, they could also develop arthritis.

What Does Arthritis Mean?

Arthritis refers to an inflammation of the joints. Arthritis is particularly common in large breed dogs, so there is a high chance your Weimaraner could develop arthritis or may currently be suffering from arthritis.

This condition affects the joints of weight-bearing bones. Weimaraners’ most commonly affected joints include knee joints, hip joints, elbow joints, and shoulder and ankle joints.

Arthritis may cause your Weimaraner chronic pain due to the cartilage surrounding the inflamed joint being damaged. This causes the bones of the joint to grind against each other as a result of the lack the lubrication that the synovial fluid provides for the joint. The friction produced by the rubbing may cause your Weimaraner to become uncomfortable and can cause severe pain.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that results when arthritis worsens and the cartilage between the joints completely disintegrates. Osteoarthritis causes the joint to be stiff and painful due to the bones sitting directly on top of each other.

The incidence of osteoarthritis varies directly with an increase in age, so the older your Weimaraner is, the more likely they will develop osteoarthritis. On average, one in every five dogs is likely to have or develop osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis usually develops secondary to Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, osteochondrosis, CCL rupture, etc.

 

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Other types of arthritis affect all dog breeds majorly. These types of arthritis include:

Rheumatoid Arthritis (Immune-mediated Disease)

This type of arthritis is a result of the immune system attacking the affected joint. It has three types which include: type 2 (caused by remote infection from the affected joint), type 3 (caused by GIT diseases), and type 4 (caused by cancer remote from the affected joint). The symptoms include joint pain, joint swelling, tonsillitis, pneumonia, and reoccurring UTIs.

Septic arthritis

This type of arthritis is a result of an infection most likely caused by bacteria. It primarily affects a large joint and is characterized by severe joint pain. This is caused by a penetrating injury in or around the joint.

You may not be aware that your Weimaraner has arthritis because it often becomes obvious late in its course. Due to your Weimaraner having four limbs, they are still able to cope by shifting their weight around their limbs. However, you will likely start to notice the stiffness when they can no longer do so anymore.

Causes of Arthritis in Weimaraners

Although arthritis is more common in Weimaraners that are old, old age is not the determining factor but a predisposing factor for arthritis. Age cannot be considered the leading cause of arthritis. 

Various factors can predispose your Weimaraner to any of the types of arthritis. These factors include:

Genetic Factors

Genetic predisposition is the most common cause of arthritis in dogs. If one or both of the parents of your Weimaraner is or was affected by arthritis, there is a high chance that your Weimaraner could be affected as well.

Overweight

Obese dogs have a greater risk of developing arthritis. This starts with the crippling of a cruciate ligament, after which it develops into arthritis.

Skeletal Conformation

Your dog’s limb’s size, structure, and angle can be a determining factor in how quickly they may develop a joint malfunction such as arthritis.

Other factors that can predispose your Weimaraner to arthritis include:

  • Abnormal joint conditions like patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia
  • A past injury like ligament damage fracture, muscle injury,  or damage to the cartilage
  • Weight of the body: If your Weimaraner is overweight or obese, then it may cause arthritis to the joints
  • Poor nutrition
  • Abnormal cartilage development

All these contribute to the development of arthritis in Weimaraners. In one way or another, these factors may have affected the cartilages of joints, causing them to deteriorate. Without cartilage to provide lubrication for friction in the joint, it causes damage to the bones of the joint.

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How can arthritis affect your Weimaraner?

When a Weimaraner is hyperactive, arthritis is likely to affect their lifestyle more. Your Weimaraner won’t be able to return to their daily fun activities like they used to.

At the onset of arthritis, you would first notice your dog’s reluctance to get out of bed. Your pet would start to lose the enthusiasm to run and jump around your house, lose interest in any form of exercise, and get tired very easily.

As arthritis progresses, your Weimaraner may find it difficult to climb up or down the stairs. You may notice your dog walks stiffly and takes small steps, unlike their normal ones.

Depending on the stage of arthritis, your pet’s joint condition can continue to deteriorate irreversibly. Once your dog has reached the stage of arthritis, your Weimaraner might find it difficult to stand from a sitting position.

What’s the Life Expectancy of a Weimaraner With Arthritis?

Learning that your Weimaraner has arthritis might toss you into a whirlwind of sadness, making you think that you would soon see the demise of a great companion. Luckily, arthritis is not a death sentence. As long as you follow a few stringent guidelines to provide for your dog’s overall well-being, your dog can continue to live a happy, fulfilling life.

Although your Weimaraner’s participation in your daily life and activities might decrease, rest assured that your Weimaraner will not be leaving you anytime soon because of arthritis with the appropriate treatment.

Thankfully, arthritis does not reduce the lifespan of your dog. Due to the advancement in veterinary medicine, your Weimaraner can even lead a pain-free life for the remainder of his or her years.

What Are the Signs That Your Weimaraner Might Have Arthritis?

The common signs that your Weimaraner exhibits when it’s coming down with arthritis include:

  • Stiffness while walking
  • Low enthusiasm to walk or jump or exercise
  • Reluctance to get up from the bed
  • Difficulty getting comfortable
  • Abnormal gait or posture
  • Weak hind limbs
  • Inability to stand for too long
  • Exhaustion or tiredness
  • Licking at their joints
  • Behavioral changes
  • Low or unlively mood
  • Experiences acute or chronic pain.

These are all the common signs for your dog when they are developing arthritis. If arthritis has progressed beyond all these, it may lead to the lameness of your Weimaraner.

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How To Diagnose Your Weimaraner With Arthritis

Your veterinarian is most effective at diagnosing if your Weimaraner truly has arthritis. Your vet will begin with a physical examination to assess the bone around the affected joint. Any indicator of pain is noted and recorded.

Then, your veterinarian will follow up with radiographs and X-rays to look at the affected area. This will help confirm if the problem is genuinely arthritic and rule out other conditions that can look or act like arthritis.

Blood tests may also be performed by your veterinarian. After arthritis has been confirmed, your vet will proceed to write a treatment and management plan that will aid in the recovery of your Weimaraner.

How To Treat Your Weimaraner With Arthritis

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for arthritis in dogs. However, there are specific ways you can make your Weimaraner live comfortably with arthritis. Some of these things include:

Visit Your Veterinarian

Consult your vet when you notice any arthritis symptoms in your Weimaraner. Your vet will aid in confirming the diagnosis by conducting physical examinations, taking X-rays and radiographs as required to verify your suspicion accurately. If your Weimaraner truly has arthritis, your vet will devise a management plan that befits your dog after taking your dog’s age and stage of arthritis into consideration. You will likely receive a supply of appropriate anti-inflammatory drugs, which will help to reduce inflammation and pain in your dog. You may also be supplied with prescription medications of chondroprotective agents like galliprants, meloxicam, carprofen, which will help repair and regenerate your Weimaraner’s cartilage, causing it to resume function.

Massage and Exercise

Another way to care for your beloved dog is to massage the muscles around the inflamed joint. This will help to increase your Weimaraner’s mobility and flexibility and can assist in essential motor functions.

In addition, participating in regular daily exercise will further strengthen your pet’s muscles and ligaments. Be careful not to put unnecessary strain on your pet during regular daily exercise, as it could only perpetuate the problem further.

Reduce Weight and Control Diet

A major predisposing factor for arthritis in dogs is obesity. Reducing your dog’s weight will take the strain off the joints and cartilage. You can do this by investing in more nutritional diets rich in Omega – 3 fatty acids and chondroitin sulfate, which will help repair the cartilages and relieve some of their symptoms.

Invest in a Supportive Bed

It would be best to prevent your dog from rubbing its inflamed joints against a rough or hard surface to prevent further irritation of the joint. Investing in a soft and supportive bed is a great way to avoid this issue. Memory foam beds are an excellent choice for arthritic pets.

 

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Ways To Prevent Arthritis in a Weimaraner

There is no clinically proven way to prevent arthritis in dogs. Engaging in regular exercise would assist in the delay of the onset of arthritis by a significant margin.

The best way to prevent arthritis in your Weimaraner is to modify their feeding and living habits from a young age. Even if you did not start these good habits earlier, it is always possible to begin healthy routines to prevent further damage to your dog’s joints in the future. 

Below are some ways by which you can prevent arthritis in your day to day life:

Routine Check-Up

Ensure that you take your Weimaraner for regular check-ups at your vet. Create a monthly and a bi-yearly check-up list so that you don’t miss out on any appointments.

Going for a regular check-up will enable your vet to detect any hint of infections or injury that may lead to arthritis early. Your vet should also recommend nutrients and diets that will help prevent any onset of disease. You will also be informed of the signs to watch out for so that you can quickly notify your vet of any unusual behavior.

Supplements

Giving nutritional supplements to your pet that will support joints and ligaments is an excellent way to reduce arthritis risk. Supplements like glucosamine, fish oil, chondroitin have been proven to support the skeletal structure of Weimaraners, but you should always consult with your veterinarian before utilizing these.

Exercise

Exercise is an excellent way of making the body stay in great shape. Engaging in the right kind of exercise can promote proper bone growth for your dog. Avoid excessive or strenuous exercise that involves too much running or jumping, as these would place unnecessary strain on its hip region.

Consider swimming as a form of exercise for your Weimaraner. Swimming is easy on joints and does not involve straining any joints or ligaments. As a bonus, Weimaraners are excellent swimmers and often enjoy the activity.

Nutrient-Rich Diet

The onset of some diseases in dogs, like arthritis, is hastened by rapid growth and development. This is caused by feeding your dog excessive amounts of rich food. Feed your Weimaraner a complete and balanced diet; however, it is essential to avoid overfeeding. This can cause the joints and ligaments of your Weimaraner to grow at a slower rate and increase the risk of arthritis in the future.

What Treatment Options Are Available for a Weimaraner With Arthritis?

Various treatment options are used for treating arthritis in dogs. Treatment options, however, are dependent on how severe the arthritis is.

A grading system has been put in place to determine the severity of arthritis in your dog. It included four grades, from grade 1 to grade 4. Each grade has a treatment option specialized for them.

Below are the four grades and their respective treatments:

Grade 1 Arthritis

This grade represents the onset of your Weimaraner’s arthritis. In this grade, the cartilage only has slight damage to it and is not severe.

Radiographs and endoscopes show that only softening of the cartilage tissue is occurring in this stage.

You may not notice any change in your dog at this stage. Your Weimaraner may feel slight pain and inconvenience and, as such, might not show any visible sign of arthritis.

Treatment Options

  • Nutrient-rich diet and supplements
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight loss
  • Non-strenuous exercises

Grade 2 Arthritis

This grade is slightly more severe than the first grade. Radiograph results would show slight disintegration of the cartilage bone and the onset of bone growth. At this grade, the pain experienced by your Weimaraner is likely to be more acute. Your pet might start to show some signs of arthritis-like stiffness and mild lameness. They may also display apathy towards physical activities at this stage.      

Treatment Options

  • Tramadol
  • Dietary supplements
  • Weight loss
  • Physical therapy

Grade 3 Arthritis

This grade shows moderate to severe deterioration in your Weimaraner’s arthritis. A radiograph will show deteriorated cartilage devoid of synovial fluid, as well as bone formation around its joints. Your Weimaraner may experience chronic pain and severe inflammation.

Treatment Options

  • Anti-oxidants
  • NSAIDs
  • Dietary supplements
  • Neuropathic pain medicines
  • Exercises
  • Nutrient-rich diet

Grade 4 Arthritis

This grade is the most severe form of arthritis. It is characterized by chronic pain and severe inflammation of the joints. X-rays will show complete loss of cartilage and extensive bone-to-bone bonding around the joints.

Treatment Options

  • Stem cell therapy
  • Cortisone injections
  • Dietary supplements
  • Weight loss
  • NSAIDs
  • Nutrient-rich diet

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Surgical Treatment

In most cases, surgical treatment is not usually necessary unless physical and conservative therapy fails to work.

Although the surgical procedure cannot completely cure your dog of arthritis, it can aid in alleviating pain and prevent further inflammation and deterioration of the joints.

The most common type of surgeries for arthritis is THR, femoral head, and neck excision. These procedures are primarily employed in the case of osteoarthritis, especially for the coxofemoral joint.

Arthrodesis and arthroplasty are used for other affected joints.

Several treatments can be put into place in addition to these surgeries. Your vet will recommend the best treatment option for your dog.

Noticing the signs of arthritis in your Weimaraner may seem grim, especially if your dog is older, as canine arthritis is not reversible. However, you need not panic. Follow the guidelines above, and you can rest assured that your Weimaraner is here to stay.