Northdale Veterinary Practice
Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is also called chronic arthritis or osteoarthritis. It describes a process of gradual deterioration or degeneration of the articular cartilage within joints.
What is DJD?
Joints consist of a tough fibrous joint capsule which joins the bones forming the joint. This is lined with a thin membrane, the synovial membrane, which produces joint (synovial) fluid. This acts as a lubricant and also carries nourishment to the articular cartilage. The cartilage is smooth to aid the movement of the joints and also acts as a cushioning layer. If the articular cartilage is damaged then it exposes the underlying bone which can grate as the joint flexes, causing pain.
AS well as general wear and tear, the cartilage can be damaged by injuries such as a torn ligament and joint infections. There may also be congenital diseases such as hip dysplasia which cause abnormal joint wear. DJD can also follow on from surgery.
Most of the damage caused by DJD is irreversible but today we do have products available that can slow the progress of the disease and promote some cartilage healing. In addition, modern analgesics can effectively control pain without causing too many side effects. Here are some keys to effective management:
DJD2.jpgObesity is a major contributor to DJD, so maintaining your dog at an optimum weight is one of the most important things you can do. We supply a range of diets to help you manage your pet’s weight and a free weight clinic with our veterinary nurses where you can get regular check-ups and advice.
Provide Support for Joints
Nutritional supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine can make a big difference to the progression of DJD. We recommend Yumove which contains an effective range of ingredients at a competitive price. An alternative is to feed a special diet such as Hills j/d diet which has built in nutritional supplements for joint disease.
Manage Your Pet’s Environment
Most pets with DJD are in their senior years so make sure you provide them with extra care:
Is the bed warm and away from draughts? Extra padding may help to keep your pet comfortable.
Exercise should be moderate. If your dog is keen to exercise that’s fine, but if you notice that he or she is very stiff the next day you will need to cut back a little. Dogs that do not want to move should be encouraged gently as movement helps to keep the limbs supple and reduce muscle wastage. Hydrotherapy or swimming can be beneficial for dogs with painful joints.
Remember that dogs with DJD may be less confident on slippery floors.
As dogs get less mobile it may help to provide ramps to help them cope with steps or to get into the car.