An inflammatory condition of a joint is called arthritis. The term polyarthritis is used if more than one joint is affected simultaneously.
In case of arthritis, a "warm" and a "cold" type are distinguished. The warm type may rapidly develop and result in painful swelling of one or several joints. The animal is lame and avoids physical activity due to the painfulness. The general condition may be impaired in some cases. Fever and absence of appetite may arise. The cold type is a slowly progressive process which at first generally affects only one joint, may later, however, also encroach upon other joints. Frequently the elbow and shoulder joints are affected. The animal begins walking stiffly upon progressive disease, can stand up only with difficulties after longer periods of resting and moves only little. Putting the hand on the affected joint and bending it, occasionally a noticeable grinding can be observed.
The "warm" arthritis is the result of an introduction of agents, either due to an injury of the articular capsule from outside or the infiltration of the agents through the bloodstream. The "cold" arthritis in contrast is an attrition which increasingly appears with dogs as of the 7th year of life. Congenital dispositions are also suspected for the disease. Larger breeds, such as Labrador, German shepherd dog and Retriever are more frequently affected.
A warm arthritis shall be treated with a high grade antibiotic which is administered over a longer period of time, since otherwise complete healing cannot be achieved. For the age-related type of the disease, a variety of drugs is available which range from feed additives over pills to injections. Depending on the severity of the disease, the animal responds to the medication. In case arthritis is early detected and treated, in the majority of cases an acceptable condition of the body can be maintained for a longer period of time.
The earlier the disease is diagnosed the larger is the range for treatment. In case you observe corresponding alterations with your dog, please consult your veterinarian. Since excess weight may promote the development of the disease and aggravate the course, owners should prevent too much excess weight of their dogs.