Collaborative research could help treat dogs and humans with arthritis

Collaborative research could help treat dogs and humans with arthritis

New research could one day lead to improved treatments for osteoarthritis (OA) in both dogs and humans.

OA, or degenerative joint disease, is the progressive deterioration of the cartilage surrounding the joints. It causes inflammation in the joints, making it harder and more painful to move.

The condition is very common in older dogs, but can also affect younger dogs after an injury or those with joint and bone development problems, according to veterinary charity PDSA.

For the first time, researchers have identified key similarities between OA in dogs and in humans.

Both dogs and humans most commonly develop arthritis in the knee, hip, shoulder and elbows, according to the Royal Veterinary College, which led the analysis of over 230 peer-reviewed academic studies.

The pain experienced by both dogs and humans with OA also has a common basis, leading the researchers to believe the neurophysiology of dogs and humans is also linked.

By compiling this knowledge into one paper, published in Nature Reviews Rheumatology, the researchers hope this review will lead to future collaborative studies by human and animal health experts -- potentially paving the way for new treatments to improve the welfare of both animals and humans.

What are the symptoms of arthritis in dogs?

Often, the first sign of OA in dogs is when they start to slow down -- they may take it easier on walks, be reluctant to play as much, or they may no longer go up the stairs or jump on their favourite chair.

Other symptoms include limping, a stiff gait (especially after exercise and when first waking up), and caution when laying down or getting back up. See your vet for a check-up if you notice any of these symptoms, PDSA advises.

Although there is no cure for arthritis, the pain can often be managed with anti-inflammatories and/or painkillers. Therapies such as massage, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy may also help.

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