(RA) is a rare condition
occurring most commonly
in toy or small breeds of
dogs, generally between
5-6 years of age.
RA results when a dog's immune
system malfunctions, mistaking
some of the body's own protein
for foreign protein. The immune
system then produces antibodies to
attack the "threatening" protein. This
process deposits protein-antibody
complexes in one or more joints,
which then become inflamed. This
process also perpetuates itself
until the immune system ultimately
wears away the cartilage and
bone within the affected joint(s).
RA ranges in severity from stiffness
to inability to walk. A dog with
RA may also exhibit fever, loss of
appetite, enlarged lymph nodes,
and swollen and painful joints.
If your dog shows any of the above
signs, visit your veterinarian for
testing and diagnosis. While RA
currently has no cure, dogs with RA
do not have to suffer a diminished
quality of life. Your veterinarian
will prescribe anti-inflammatory
drugs such as buffered aspirin,
steroids, or immunosuppressant
medications. Rest, careful
exercise, and weight control also
help relieve RA symptoms.
Ultimately, the long-term goal
in treating dogs with RA is
controlling symptoms and
preventing further joint injury to
maximize mobility and comfort.
Read more on Rheumatoid Arthritis in Dogs on PetEducation.com >