This is a common cause of lameness in dogs. It is caused by the wearing down of cartilage which is the cushion within a joint that helps prevent friction. It is a painful and progressive disease that produces inflammation of the joints. As the cartilage starts to wear thin the edge of the joint will thicken and bone irregularities appear as the bones rub against one another causing extreme pain. The disease cannot be cured as cartilage is unable to repair itself. Often it will occur in dogs with hip or elbow dysplasia or those who have had joint trauma caused through injury and is then referred to as a secondary joint disease.

It can affect more than one joint and the dog will display signs of pain, stiffness, reduced mobility, lameness and swelling of the joints.

Symptoms of a dog suffering with Osteoarthritis include:

• Reluctance to participate in exercise such a running, swimming and walking
• Limping
• Change in gait
• Stiffness
• Yelping/Crying
• Reluctance to jump into a car or use stairs
• Soreness when being touched
• Showing signs of aggression
• Joint Swelling due to increased fluid in the joint, or new bone development and soft tissue thickening
• Licking or chewing the affected joint

Therefore it is not unusual for owners to misinterpret these symptoms as signs of old age.

By controlling the weight management, diet and exercise, alongside pain control a dog with osteoarthritis can live a happy life.

Massage can help to control the associated pain and muscle tension, slow the disease progression and improve the dog’s quality of life. It helps warm the muscles allowing them to relax. It helps increase the ROM (range of motion) and increase general flexibility and mobility. It can reduce muscles spasms and reduce swelling around the joints.