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5 Risk Factors for Canine Arthritis

By: Novartis Animal Health

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One out of every five dogs suffer from arthritis. And while the Arthritis Foundation has designated May as National Arthritis Month for people, the month is also a great time to look at the risk factors and treatment of the disease that affects our pets.

Arthritis can affect dogs of any age or breed, but certain risk factors increase a dog's susceptibility to the disease. According to veterinarians at Novartis Animal Health, these include:

1. Genetic predisposition. Up to 70 percent of dogs in specific breeds, which include Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and German shepherds, will be affected by canine arthritis.

2. Obesity. Studies show that obese dogs are likely to develop osteoarthritis three years earlier, on average, than lean dogs.

3. Joint abnormalities. Joint conditions such as canine hip dysplasia, the leading cause of lameness in dogs, can increase a dog's risk of developing osteoarthritis because it puts excessive stress on the animal's joints.

4. Joint stress and trauma. Injuries (such as getting hit by a car) that damage ligaments, tissues or bones also increase a dog's risk of developing osteoarthritis. In addition, high-activity and working dogs that participate in demanding activities put repeated stress on their joints. This chronic ligamentous injury makes them more susceptible to osteoarthritis.

5. Infection. Conditions caused by various bacterial, viral and fungal infections can affect joints and contribute to arthritis. Common conditions include Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever which can be carried by ticks(1).

If a pet owner suspects that their dog may be in pain, they should bring it to their veterinarian's attention. If diagnosed, the disease can be treated with diet, exercise and a pain control medication such as Deramaxx (an anti-inflammatory drug similar to Celebrex and Vioxx for humans).

Watch for more info from us about arthritis during National Arthritis Month.


1. "Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine," Dr's. Ettinger, Feldman. Vol. 2, Chapter 183, 2002

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