Cold weather and osteoarthritis in the dog

Osteoarthritis is a very common degenerative disease of the joints in dogs. Osteoarthritis causes pain, decreased joint range of motion, and joint inflammation.

The cold weather and especially the humidity, can increase the symptoms of this pathology, in autumn and winter is when dogs with osteoarthritis suffer the most.

Two types of osteoarthritis are distinguished, primary and secondary. The primary ones are degenerative, can affect more than one joint and are due to age and the “wear” of the joint. They are the typical osteoarthritis of the knee, carpus, tarsus and even spine that the elderly human population also suffers. Secondary osteoarthritis is due to joint misalignment that has prematurely worn down the articular cartilage. These occur after a fracture, especially if it has affected the joint, due to a bad joint disposition (demarcation): bad aplombs, or in the most common house secondary to hip dysplasia.


Photo: different joint protectors for dogs

Both in one case and in the other several things are recommended:

  • Strict control of the diet: the dog must be at its ideal weight, if it is overweight the joints suffer very significantly this excess.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication, now recommended NSAIDs cox-2 are new generation nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with far fewer side effects and more direct action on areas of pain.
  • Joint protectors: glycosaminoglycans, chondroitin sulfate…
  • Regular physical exercise: it is very important not to lose too much muscle mass, dogs with osteoarthritis usually weaken the muscles due to lack of use, this weakening and muscle atrophy worsens the picture
  • Sleep in padded beds, insulated from moisture and warm.
  • Joint protectors: supports to respect joint function.
  • Avoid exposure to cold and sudden changes in temperature: blankets to protect them from the cold and humidity can help us.

There are specific products to protect and support the joints of our animals, both for the protection of the tarsus and for the carpus.

You can also find blankets or coats for dogs that reflect the heat of the same animal and help in cases of osteoarthritis of the spine and hip. And special mattresses for the relief of the ailments of osteoarthritis in the dog. In the morning when the affected joint is cold and the animal has not moved for a long time, the symptoms will be more evident.

Back on Track products are made in Sweden and are made with so-called “smart textiles” or new generation unique textiles that have been developed on the basis of knowledge of ancient Chinese medicine along with the most modern research, as for the techniques applied to the textile industry, supported with scientific studies. The resulting product has been a fabric formed by an optimal fusion of polyester/polypropylene and ceramic particles.

Ceramics reflect body heat by restoring it in the form of infrared radiation. It is well known that infrared light has a calming effect as mild heat reduces inflammation, decreases muscle tension and improves blood circulation. The muscles in tension relax and the process of muscle recovery is accelerated, tendons, ligaments and joints injured and sore.

Photo: Thermal coat, protects from cold and humidity conserving the heat of the animal itself.

The essential function of tissue with ceramic particles is to prevent damage, as well as relieve and accelerate the process of recovery from injuries but it is also used to warm the muscles before exercise or physical work, thus eliminating the risks of pulls and fibrillar tears.

These products: Increase blood circulation, accelerate recovery from injuries, reduce inflammation, reduce muscle tension and relieve pain.

Incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs

In a study by the Orthopaedic Foundation of Animals OFA, which is the one that analyzes the largest number of cases, we can conclude with some criteria that dog breeds are more predisposed to suffer from hip dysplasia.

soporte para perro con displasia de caderaThe study shows a summary of the main breeds. The study has been extended over time from 1974 to 2010 with a minimum of 100 cases per breed analyzing up to 147 different breeds.

It is worth mentioning the English Bull Dog and the Carlino as the dogs with the highest percentage of dysplasia have together with the Bordeaux Dog exceed 50% very close are the Neapolitan Mastiff and the San Bernardo. On the opposite side are the greyhound with virtually no known cases of dysplasia.

Bull dog 72.6%

Carlino 64,3 %

Doge of Bordeaux 56,3 %

Neapolitan Mastiff 48.1%

San Bernardo 46.7%

Dog Argentino 41.0%

Basset 37.8%

Presa Canario 33.3%

American Bull Dog 33.0%

French Bull Dog 31.3%

American Stafforshire 26.0%

Bullmastiff 24.4%

Pit Bull 23.6%

German Shepherd 22.4%

Rottweiler 20.3%

Golden Retriever 19.8%

Chow Chow 19.5%

Mastiff 19.4%

English Shepherd 18.6%

Giant Schnauzer 18.0%

Beagle 18.0%

English Setter 16.3%

Bernese Bouvier 16.1%

Akita 12.9%

Poodle 12.2%

West Highland 12.1%

Great Dane 12.0%

Labrador Retriever 11.9%

Alaskan Malamute 11.5%

Samoyed 11.1%

Boxer 11.0%

Border Collie 10.9%

Pyrenees Mountain 9.2%

Schznauzer 8.6%

Pointer 8.1%

Bull Terrier 6.7%

Cocker Spaniel 6.5%

Rodesian 5.1%

Dalmatian 4.6%

Greyhound 2.1%

Siberian Husky 2.0%

Whippet 1.4%

Italian Greyhound 0.0%


Information extracted by Ortocanis from the OFA study on the incidence of hip dysplasia in different dog breeds

You can see all the data of the study in the following table:

Race Posic. Number of evaluations Excellent percentage Dysplasia percentage
BULLDOG 1 506 0.2 72.1
PUG 2 441 0.0 66.0
DOGUE OF BORDEAUX 3 406 1.0 56.7
OTTERHOUND 4 374 0.3 51.1
BOERBOEL 5 110 4.5 48.2
ST. BERNARD 7 2112 4.1 46.8
CLUMBER SPANIEL 8 864 3.0 44.8
SUSSEX SPANIEL 10 258 1.6 41.5
ARGENTINE DOGO 11 193 3.1 40.9
CANE CORSO 12 687 6.7 40.0
BASSET HOUND 13 198 0.0 37.4
BOYKIN SPANIEL 14 2890 2.1 33.7
CANARY PREY DOG 15 180 3.9 33.3
NORFOLK TERRIER 16 274 0.0 33.2
AMERICAN BULLDOG 17 1733 4.9 33.2
GLEN OF IMAAL TERRIER 18 145 0.7 31.0
FRENCH BULLDOG 19 931 1.3 30.4
FILA BRASILEIRO 20 598 7.5 29.9
BLOODHOUND 22 2768 2.8 25.7
NEWFOUNDLAND 23 14688 8.3 25.2
BULLMASTIFF 24 5369 3.9 24.4
MAINE COON CAT 25 1073 4.2 24.3
ESPAÑOL SHEPHERD 28 322 10.6 22.0
ROTTWEILER 30 92235 8.3 20.3
CARDIGAN WELSH CORGI 31 1759 3.2 19.7
GOLDEN RETRIEVER 32 130304 4.1 19.7
NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND 33 3756 7.2 19.6
CHOW CHOW 34 5218 7.2 19.5
PYRENEAN SHEPHERD 35 108 2.8 19.4
MASTIFF 36 10505 7.9 19.3
SHIH TZU 37 615 2.0 19.3
GORDON SETTER 38 5947 8.8 19.3
HYBRID 39 1172 8.3 19.3
GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG 40 102750 3.9 19.0
PEMBROKE WELSH CORGI 42 10636 3.2 18.6
OLD ENGLISH SHEEPDOG 43 10515 11.7 18.5
KUVASZ 44 1713 13.7 18.1
CHINOOK 45 581 9.3 18.1
FIELD SPANIEL 46 964 8.2 18.0
SHILOH SHEPHERD 47 701 9.0 18.0
BEAGLE 48 855 2.6 18.0
GIANT SCHNAUZER 49 4266 9.7 17.9
EPAGNEUL BRETON 51 121 1.7 17.4
WELSH TERRIER 52 104 5.8 17.3
ICELANDIC SHEEPDOG 53 197 11.7 16.8
ESPAÑOL SETTER 54 10145 10.4 16.1
ENTLEBUCHER 55 293 4.4 16.0
BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG 56 16544 13.6 15.9
AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG 57 3334 4.4 15.6
ITALIAN SPINONE 58 1120 18.0 15.5
LABRADOODLE 59 149 9.4 15.4
AFFENPINSCHER 62 274 4.0 15.3
BOUVIER DES FLANDRES 63 7959 6.1 15.0
BRITTANY 64 17673 8.7 14.6
BLACK AND TAN COONHOUND 65 678 10.3 14.5
BRIARD 66 2338 13.2 14.2
HARRIER 67 318 9.1 14.2
LEONBERGER 68 1574 20.2 14.0
TIBETAN MASTIFF 69 862 7.5 13.9
BEAUCERON 70 349 14.3 13.8
HAVANA SILK DOG 71 183 2.2 13.7
NORWICH TERRIER 72 693 7.1 13.4
CHINESE SHAR-PEI 73 9470 9.1 13.3
PORTUGUESE WATER DOG 75 7468 14.0 12.8
AKITA 76 15949 18.9 12.8
PUDELPOINTER 77 390 14.9 12.6
FINNISH LAPPHUND 78 144 11.1 12.5
KOMONDOR 80 960 12.2 12.2
POODLE 81 21881 11.7 12.2
BOSTON TERRIER 83 182 6.0 12.1
GREAT DANE 84 12071 11.6 12.0
IRISH SETTER 85 11075 9.1 12.0
IRISH WATER SPANIEL 86 1250 17.3 11.9
LABRADOR RETRIEVER 87 221077 18.1 11.8
SMOOTH FOX TERRIER 88 317 8.8 11.7
WELSH SPRINGER SPANIEL 89 1893 15.2 11.7
AIREDALE TERRIER 90 5757 7.3 11.5
ALASKAN MALAMUTE 91 13605 16.8 11.4
SAMOYED 93 15590 10.4 11.0
BOXER 94 5221 3.4 10.9
WIREHAIRED VIZSLA 95 101 10.9 10.9
BORDER COLLIE 96 10353 12.9 10.8
ANATOLIAN SHEPHERD 97 1714 18.1 10.3
PULI 98 1717 16.3 10.1
HAVANESE 99 2776 9.1 10.0
SMALL MUNSTERLANDER 100 134 12.7 9.7
AKBASH DOG 101 537 23.8 9.7
AMERICAN ESKIMO DOG 102 990 8.6 9.3
AUSTRALIAN KELPIE 103 119 9.2 9.2
GREAT PYRENEES 104 5749 14.0 9.2
COTON DE TULEAR 105 640 9.2 9.2
NORWEGIAN BUHUND 107 176 8.0 9.1
SWEDISH VALLHUND 109 185 5.9 8.6
WEIMARANER 110 11733 21.1 8.5
STANDARD SCHNAUZER 111 4073 8.1 8.5
TIBETAN SPANIEL 112 319 6.6 8.2
POINTER 113 1501 13.7 8.1
FRENCH SPANIEL 115 167 18.6 7.8
VIZSLA 117 13032 16.5 7.1
BICHON FRISE 118 3364 11.4 6.9
DUTCH SHEPHERD 119 190 18.4 6.8
BULL TERRIER 120 105 11.4 6.7
COCKER SPANIEL 122 12575 10.8 6.4
LHASA APSO 123 812 14.5 6.4
KEESHOND 124 4537 9.1 6.3
DOBERMAN PINSCHER 125 14922 17.9 6.1
HOVAWART 126 131 22.9 6.1
BEARDED COLLIE 127 4356 16.3 6.1
FINNISH SPITZ 128 321 16.8 5.9
SCHIPPERKE 129 426 10.3 5.9
TIBETAN TERRIER 130 3836 30.6 5.8
AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD 131 30510 16.4 5.8
AFGHAN HOUND 132 6593 29.7 5.7
KERRY BLUE TERRIER 133 1502 13.2 5.7
SHIBA INU 134 2892 18.4 5.6
ESPAÑOL COCKER SPANIEL 135 6681 18.7 5.6
BELGIAN MALINOIS 136 2480 18.4 5.4
IRISH WOLFHOUND 138 1695 26.7 5.0
RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK 139 10672 21.8 5.0
SHETLAND SHEEPDOG 141 19079 27.5 4.6
DALMATIAN 142 3273 10.5 4.5
FLAT-COATED RETRIEVER 143 5242 19.5 4.2
IRISH RED & WHITE SETTER 145 197 29.4 4.1
BORDER TERRIER 146 2453 20.4 3.8
BELGIAN TERVUREN 148 5664 25.9 3.5
BASENJI 149 2448 23.1 3.4
RAT TERRIER 150 421 14.0 3.3
BELGIAN SHEEPDOG 151 3886 32.7 2.9
COLLIE 152 2825 29.9 2.8
IBIZAN HOUND 153 322 35.7 2.8
PHARAOH HOUND 154 444 15.5 2.7
AUSTRALIAN TERRIER 155 179 5.6 2.2
CANAAN 156 423 17.3 2.1
GREYHOUND 157 343 35.6 2.0
SIBERIAN HUSKY 158 16915 33.7 2.0
BORZOI 160 846 31.0 1.8
SALUKI 161 261 42.5 1.5
WHIPPET 162 154 38.3 1.3
GERMAN PINSCHER 163 331 21.8 1.2
ITALIAN GREYHOUND 164 211 59.2 0.0



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Degenerative myelopathy, the progressive and degenerative disease of the spinal cord of the elderly dog, has an onset from 8 years of age. In the initial phases, the dog shows incoordination in movements, falls off its hind legs or makes strange movements; staggers and drags one or both feet or walks with knuckles.

The disease can start in one hind limb and affect the other up to the thoracic limbs. The weakness progressively worsens, the dog has difficulty standing and has trouble walking. The disease can progress for a year until the dog finally becomes paraplegic or tetraplegic and must be euthanized. It is a slightly painful disease and in most cases it affects urination and defecation, they become incontinent.

There are no treatments that reduce this degeneration or stop it, but there are measures to help these dogs that suffer from it to maintain their quality of life. It is necessary for the animal to do rehabilitation exercises and maintain lifestyle habits at home to avoid pressure ulcers, urine infections and loss of mobility.

Physiotherapy and rehabilitation can help slow the process. Secondary pain symptoms (tensions), created by the animal itself when trying to move, can be controlled. The aim is to stop the appearance of atrophy (loss of muscle mass) and preserve the function of the forelimbs, as well as preserve the integrity of the hind limbs, to avoid ulcers and keep them active as long as possible, stimulate their sensitivity and work on coordination and balance of the animal to give it a better quality of life.

For this, passive mobilization exercises, massages, stretching, combined with heat, hot packs , and with some device that combat atrophy , muscle electrostimulators and TENS pain, are used.


There is another part of the therapy that tries to maintain active mobility on the part of the animal. For that, balls , plates , hydrotherapy, bars and cones , walks, etc. are used. to maintain active mobility with good coordination without loss of balance. This stage is the one that is most altered with the course of the disease and for this, when the animal begins to deteriorate, not maintain its own weight, it is necessary to maintain mobility with the use of Harnesses for hindquarters , in the case of presenting difficulty only in hindquarters, or integral harnesses , to also support the anterior limbs.

The latest novelty on the market is the Biko Brace , a device that allows the dog to walk when the disease already affects the hind limbs significantly. In advanced phases of the disease, the use of customized wheelchairs is necessary.

During the stay at home, the animal must be in a comfortable, soft but firm place so that it can be easily incorporated. special mattress for dogs If the disease is in its early stages and the animal is dragging its feet, or with its knuckles, it is important to protect that area to avoid ulcers with booties or socks for dogs

During the course of the disease, the nutrition and weight control of the animal is very important to avoid complications.

In the following video we see TEX, a German Shepherd affected by degenerative myelopathy before and after the use of the Biko-Brace device.

Marta Subirats

canine physical therapist

Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner by the University of Tennessee

Do large breed dogs slouch?

Are the alterations in the movement of the hindquarters in our dogs due to hip dysplasia?

On many occasions consultations are made for movement disorders or difficulties, claudication, limping of the hindquarters, either in puppies or in adult dogs. It is important to understand that NOT all claudication responds to the same pathology and of course to the same treatment. It is very common to hear that older dogs “loosen”.

The term hip displasia popularly refers to hip dysplasia and if we refer to elderly animals, in most cases it is not the hip that is responsible for this problem, but rather conditions of the dorsal or lumbar spine, showing great displacement difficulties and even paresis of the posterior train. Spine problems can appear in dogs from 7 or 8 years of age, mainly in large breeds with or without dysplasia. The clinical manifestations of hip problems are more frequent in young dogs, but it must also be taken into account that a large percentage of animals are asymptomatic.

What happens in older dogs?

As our dogs get older, the first signs of aging appear: decreased activity and some lameness in the hindquarters.

If they were dogs that showed no gait problems when they were young, owners are surprised by the change in activity and it is common to think that hip dysplasia has knocked on the door. However, in many cases the spinal column of these dogs has suffered from the action of pressure and traction on the intervertebral discs, causing a fibrous hardening of the capsules (with which the cartilaginous discs support or cushion less blows and traction) and in many Opportunities the nuclei of these intervertebral discs move, squeezing the spinal cord (herniated disc) compressing the nerve roots and causing pain and neurological dysfunction.

This disease is known as spondyloarthrosis or degenerative stenosis in the lumbosacral region or in the thoracolumbar region of the spine.

The symptoms vary according to the location of the lesions, but on many occasions they are similar to hip dysplasia: pain in the hind limbs, claudication and difficulty standing up, staggering and less activity. Spondyloarthrosis can progress to paralysis of the hindquarters. Many animals have one or more affected vertebrae in a subclinical state (without symptoms) or show slight clinical signs.

In the case of spondyloarthrosis, the treatments must be very energetic.

Anti- inflammatories , neurotrophic vitamins, chondroprotective cartilage regenerators, analgesics, muscle relaxants, as well as rehabilitation therapies in more serious cases are used together. Consult your veterinarian in these cases since it is very important to make a good diagnosis, differentiate the different pathologies to implement the appropriate treatment.

What happens in puppies and hip dysplasia?

If we think specifically about puppies, not all of them show symptoms having hip dysplasia. The diagnosis can be made from 6 months of age through an X-ray taken with the animal under anesthesia, which allows a perfect position and distension of the ligaments of the coxofemoral joint.

Other lesions in the lumbar spine (cauda equina) may appear here, producing pain and lameness that may coexist with hip dysplasia or with totally healthy hips, making differential and specific diagnosis essential.

These concepts have the sole objective of giving a general idea of some of the pathologies that can affect our dogs, so as not to be left with the concept that the “hip is the mother of all evils”.

Specifically in “old” dogs and puppies, we can monitor and prevent joint problems. Oral and injectable chondroprotectors are used for this, which inhibit the processes of cartilage-degrading enzymes, are natural anti-inflammatories, nourish cartilage cells and stimulate cartilage regeneration.

It is also advisable that as our dogs approach 10 years, they are well fed but thin. Obesity or overweight is an ingredient against longevity. Moderate exercise will keep our animals active and with a good temperament.

Dr. Ana María Robles – Veterinary Doctor – MP 2626

Probably one of the most common diseases in large dogs, here they explain what it is.

Hip Dysplasia is the most common osteoarticular disease in dogs. a typical disease of dogs of large and medium breeds, less frequent in small breeds.

It presents with a poor congruence of the acetabular cavity (hip) with the femoral heads that may appear dislocated or sub-dislocated, that is, out of their natural place. The head of the femur, not having a good coating, “dances” and this produces stress, inflames and weakens the joint and the periarticular tissues.

It is very common for degenerative changes of osteoarthritis to appear. Osteoarthrosis that appears due to dysplasia will cause problems of inflammation, pain, which in turn will cause the dog to carry more weight on the hands, less on the hindquarters and therefore use less hindquarters and a clear muscle atrophy appears in the posterior third that will aggravate the symptoms.

The symptoms vary a little depending on the breed and especially the age of the dog, we must think that for the diagnosis a distraction X-ray is performed, that is to say with the dog lying up and symmetrical traction on the hind limbs, normally with the dog anesthetized or heavily sedated, but the symptoms do not always correlate with the x-ray result.

Sometimes we see dogs with a lot of dysplasia and that have little or no pain and also the opposite case, a lot of pain with a result in the radiological examination that is not so bad. The pain depends more on the inflammation of the joint (synovitis) among other factors than on the dysplasia itself.

From 5 or 6 months, the warning signs begin, the dog stands badly (puts one leg out), has difficulty standing, does not bear weight on the hindquarters, may have signs of pain after exercise , slipping, falling, sudden mood changes, becoming more aggressive, avoiding the presence of the owner when petting him and presenting the typical gait of the dog with dysplasia, which is rocking the back and running like a rabbit. Sometimes at the end of growth the symptoms disappear or are greatly minimized, the only clear sign remaining is a rocking gait.

Hip dysplasia has clear indices of heritability, although dogs are often carriers but do not develop hip dysplasia, not all environmental factors such as rapid development and nutrition are clear, as well as genetics or their mechanisms of action and we can see offspring with hip dysplasia from normal parents and even vice versa, although it is not very ethical to raise sick parents.

Excess weight, a non-varied diet where dogs can choose are factors that have been shown to increase the chances of suffering from the disease. The most critical period for the development of this disease is between 3 and 8 months, reducing caloric intake and regular exercise without much impact could be an interesting decision to avoid hip dysplasia in this phase. colchon para perros, artrosis, displasia cadera perros, perro anciano

In older dogs, the problems are determined as a result of the osteoarthritis that they present, the most typical symptoms are difficulty getting up, swaying gait from the hips, we observe that it carries much more weight in front and that it walks with the help of the forelimbs (rowing more than propelling), they have a lot of difficulty getting on their hind legs, climbing stairs, getting into the car or getting on the sofa. In the image we can see the typical position that a dog with hip osteoarthritis adopts, with its legs open to increase the base of support and its head forward to load more weight on the front part, you can also see the muscular atrophy that exists in the later ones.

Sometimes they present a limp that disappears after walking for a short period of time, which is suffered more in the morning when getting up, especially if they have not rested correctly or on a suitable mattress, the limbs are usually flexed while they walk, their steps they are short since the extension of the hips hurts and they present a very important development of the muscular mass of the hindquarters (atrophy). The times of the walks are reduced a lot, the dog sits or lies down and does not want to go for a walk or for a long time during the walk.
Although there are various classifications, the International Canine Federation is based on this classification:

  • No sign of dysplasia.
  • Almost normal hip joints.
  • Mild dysplasia.
  • Moderate or medium.
  • Serious.

Although there are surgical methods: excision of the pectineus muscle, triple hip osteotomy, arthroplasty of the femoral head, forage, hip prosthesis… in the end, the treatment is purely palliative, it includes pharmacology: anti-inflammatories and cartilage protectors, weight reduction, exercise moderate and above all regular, physiotherapy can help a lot to better develop the muscles without pain to remove tensions and eliminate compensations that the dog has made, improvements in the environment: sleep on a good mattress for example the mattress for older dogs , not being cold or exposed to high humidity, and all the adjuvant treatments such as acupuncture, massages, reiki, bach flowers…

We can help our dog with hip dysplasia in many ways: regular physical exercisecolchón para perros, displasia, artrosis can help us a lot to improve muscle mass that can make us better withstand poor joint congruence, physiotherapy and massages allow the dog to always have a correct muscular state, cartilage protectors delay the onset of osteoarthritis, anti-inflammatories prevent or reduce pain, we can protect the dog from the cold with thermal blankets and if the dog has trouble getting up, help it with a rear harness , it is important that the dog feels comfortable and that we encourage it to move and exercise.

Orthocanis Team