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When To Put Down A Dog With Arthritis?

Every dog has her day. And, unfortunately, every dog has her last day as well, and the time may come when you need to euthanize your pet.

While letting go of loved ones is hard, if your canine is no longer enjoying life and is constantly suffering, euthanasia may be in her best interest.

Unfortunately, conditions like arthritis can dramatically impact your pet’s quality of life, and if the condition worsens, your pet will suffer even more.

Putting an animal to sleep is a big decision, and once euthanasia medications are administered, the decision is essentially irreversible.

At the same time, with the right arthritis medications, treatments, diet, and lifestyle changes, older pets may still have several years of happiness ahead of them.

Before pulling the trigger, you should carefully consider whether your dog needs to be put to sleep.

Some research now will help you make an informed decision.

That’s why we’re going to cover some of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether to euthanize a dog that’s suffering from arthritis.

First, we’ll cover what arthritis is and how it can impact your pet’s quality of life.

Then we’ll consider whether euthanasia is the best choice for you and your pet.

Still, while we’re going to cover a lot of important factors, each case is unique.

It’s wise to speak with a veterinarian or another expert before making a decision.

Also, while we’re examining canine arthritis specifically, you can use the following information while caring for other animals, such as cats or horses.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis refers to joint pain and inflammation, which can make it difficult if not impossible to move.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis.

These common conditions affect people and animals alike and can be quite painful.

More than 50 million adult Americans suffer from arthritis.

It’s believed that roughly 20 percent of dogs suffer from arthritis.

As your pet ages, arthritis often becomes a greater risk.

Dogs that have passed their middle age are especially prone to arthritis and various other health conditions.

Not sure if your pet is suffering from arthritis?

Keep an eye out for these common symptoms:

  • Stiff or sore joints.
  • Constant pain that gets worse when your pet moves.
  • Difficulty engaging in physical activity, such as climbing stairs.
  • General lethargy and unwillingness to move.
  • Swelling and redness, especially around joints.
  • Decreased range of motion.

Arthritis is most common among older individuals.

That said, puppies, kittens, and children may also suffer from this condition.

Injuries and overstraining may also cause some of the above symptoms.

Determining whether your pet has arthritis can be difficult.

Fortunately, vets can perform pet exams and run diagnostic tests to make a determination.

Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis is often broken down into two categories: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Figuring out which type of arthritis your pet is suffering from may help you determine if euthanasia is necessary.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in an individual joint breaks down or is worn out.

Generally, osteoarthritis is limited to one joint.

However, multiple joints can separately become worn out, causing pain throughout the body.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning your dog’s immune system is attacking its own body.

In this case, your companion’s immune system is damaging the joints, including the synovial membrane.

Often, the immune system attacks multiple joints at once and thus causes problems throughout the body.

Since rheumatoid arthritis can cause issues throughout the body and is not limited to specific joints, it’s sometimes a more serious condition and may be more difficult to treat.

In addition to joint-specific swelling, rheumatoid arthritis can also result in a fever and loss of appetite.

Now that you know what arthritis is and also common symptoms to watch for, you can keep an eye on your pet.

If you notice symptoms, it’s smart to talk with a veterinarian.

If your pet is suffering from only mild cases of arthritis, medications and lifestyle adjustments may provide relief.

As a result, euthanasia may not be necessary.

Understanding the Severity of Arthritis and When To Put a Pet to Sleep

Arthritis is not an automatic death sentence.

Animals and people may enjoy many healthy, productive years while suffering from arthritis.

And these days, there are more treatment options for both people and pets than ever before.

That said, severe cases of arthritis may make it necessary to put your pet to sleep.

While medications may provide relief, over time these medications may no longer prove effective.

Putting suffering animals to sleep is a mercy.

While euthanizing your pet may be hard, causing emotional duress, the time may come when it’s in your pet’s best interests to put him or her to sleep.

If you’re struggling to care for ailing your pet, this too could impact her quality of life.

Euthanasia may be in her best interest and yours as well.

Arthritis often causes severe swelling, which in turn creates pain.

Your pet might struggle simply to walk or eat.

She may also suffer severe pain even while lying down.

That said, treatment may provide relief.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are a common type of treatment and could reduce swelling.

Meanwhile, painkillers and physical therapy may provide pain relief.

With the right pet arthritis treatment, your pet may still enjoy a high quality of life.

With rheumatoid arthritis, immunosuppressive medications may help your pet get her immune system under control.

However, immunosuppressive medications can also decrease the immune system’s ability to fight off pathogens and other diseases.

While immunosuppressive medications may relieve rheumatoid arthritis, your pet could suffer from more colds and illnesses, such as the flu.

Even if your dog’s joints are no longer causing severe pain, if she is constantly sick, she may not enjoy a high quality of life.

In this case, putting your pet to sleep might be in her best interest.

When Is It Necessary to Euthanize a Dog With Arthritis?

If your pet is suffering from severe arthritis and treatment is either impossible or would result in further suffering, it may be time to say goodbye.

That said, if your pet is suffering from mild arthritis, euthanasia may not be necessary.

Of course, you might need to make some lifestyle changes.

If your pet is sore and movement is hard on the body, you may want to skip long walks on the beach or playing fetch in the backyard, among other activities.

Still, your pet may enjoy lounging around your home, short walks, belly rubs, and all the rest.

If your pet is unable to move or experiences great pain while moving, the time may have come to put her to sleep.

Quite simply, pets need to be able to move.

If pets can’t move, their body may quickly break down. He or she may suffer from sores and other issues.

If your pet is unable to eat, she may start to lose weight, and hunger may add yet another painful burden.

Comorbidities may also increase your pet’s suffering and could make euthanasia necessary.

Comorbidities are conditions that occur alongside the primary condition, which for our discussion is arthritis.

Some common arthritis comorbidities include obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

For the sake of this article, we’re treating arthritis as the main condition.

That said, another ailment could be the primary cause of your pet’s suffering, and arthritis may be a comorbid condition.

Canine diabetes, for example, can cause a variety of health problems, including cloudy eyes, infections, and a loss of appetite.

A pet with diabetes may waste away before your eyes, and along the way, she may also suffer from arthritis.

If another condition is the main source of your dog’s suffering, treating arthritis may provide little relief.

That’s why it’s important to closely consider your pet and what is causing him or her to suffer.

Putting Your Dog’s Needs and Well-Being First

There’s no easy or obvious answer for determining when to euthanize your dog or other pet.

That said, there is a proper approach. When considering euthanasia, your pet’s needs and well-being should come first.

If your pet cannot move or is in great pain, it may be time to put her to sleep.

If she is losing a lot of weight, is vomiting, or is suffering frequent infections, it may be time to let go.

This is especially true if the suffering is chronic and even more so if the condition is worsening.

If you’re considering euthanizing your pet, you should talk with a veterinarian or another expert.

Your vet can offer objective advice and can help you determine how much your pet is suffering.

A veterinarian can also determine whether the condition can be treated.

Euthanasia is often a mercy and can release pets from suffering.

While this may have a detrimental impact on you, the owner, you should put your pet’s interests and well-being first.

Euthanasia is generally pain-free, and you can typically comfort your pet as she passes.

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National Canine Research Association of America