(BPT) - If dogs could talk, they’d probably say things like, “Treat, please,” “Ball!” and “Rub my belly.” Some dogs may add “Ouch” to their vocabulary. Why? Because one in five dogs suffers from painful joints caused by canine osteoarthritis (OA), according to estimates. Since dogs can’t say they’re hurting, they’ve found other ways to get the message across. Learn to speak your dog’s language and understand his risk for painful OA by taking this quiz created by the veterinarians at American Regent Animal Health, maker of Adequan® Canine (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan).
1. What is canine OA?
This first answer is a freebie: Canine OA, also known as arthritis, is a painful disease that develops when joint cartilage, tissues and fluids break down. As OA gets worse over time, it can cause bone-on-bone contact in the joint and an uncomfortable life for your dog.
2. How easily does your dog jump onto the couch or into a car?
Jumps with no problem = Lower OA risk. Hesitates before jumping = Mid-level risk. Sometimes needs help jumping up = High risk. Translation: Jumping stresses joints, so dogs with OA need to gear up before taking a leap. Dogs with advanced OA may not be able to jump at all.
3. When you and your dog go on walks, where does your dog usually walk?
Beside or in front of you = Lower OA risk. Sometimes in front of you, sometimes behind = Mid-level risk. Behind with lots of breaks = High risk. Translation: Dogs with OA may lag behind or stop walking altogether because of sore joints. But daily walking helps joints stay loose and feel better, so it’s still important even for dogs with OA.
4. How would you describe your dog’s mood over the past few months?
Unchanged – as happy as ever = Lower OA risk. A little more anxious or irritable = Mid-level risk. Much more anxious and irritable = High risk. Translation: The pain of OA makes moving through daily life uncomfortable, which may dampen a dog’s mood. That’s why slowing the OA disease process helps keep dogs happy.
5. When you look down at your dog’s midsection, what do you see?
An hourglass shape with slightly visible ribs = Lower OA risk. A slight hourglass shape with no visible ribs = Mid-level risk. A tube shape with no visible ribs = High risk. Translation: Dogs with excess weight are more likely to develop OA. Once a dog has OA, extra weight stresses already sore joints.
6. How old is your dog?
Up to 2 years old = At risk for early OA. 3 to 6 years old = At risk for mid-stage OA. 7 years old or older = At risk for advanced OA. Translation: While arthritis in people often comes with age, most cases of canine OA begin when dogs are just 4 to 6 months old.
7. What size is your dog?
Small, such as a Shih Tzu or Pug = Lower OA risk. Medium size, such as a Beagle or Basset Hound = Mid-level risk. Large or giant, such as a Golden retriever, Labrador retriever, German Shepherd or Great Dane = High risk. Translation: Bigger dogs are more likely to develop OA, but it affects any size or breed of dog.
8. What can be done to help dogs with OA?
Here’s a good-news answer: Canine OA is a manageable disease. With the right lifestyle and treatments, dogs with OA run and jump and live active lives for years to come. This is especially true if you and your veterinarian catch OA early, while there’s still a chance to slow its effects.
No matter your quiz results, talk with your dog’s veterinarian about OA. You can work together to translate your dog’s signals, identify joint pain and create a custom plan for managing OA if it’s diagnosed. Ask your veterinarian if Adequan® Canine (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan) is right for your dog. Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. Learn more at adequancanine.com. And remember, even though your dog can’t talk, he’s telling you plenty, including, “Thank you for taking good care of me.”