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Osteoarthritis: The Most Common Joint Disorder in Dogs

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder diagnosed in dogs.1 OA is a term used to describe the process of joint cartilage degeneration. It is a chronic, progressive, and inflammatory disorder that results in articular cartilage damage as well as degenerative and proliferative changes in the joint.

Normal joint cartilage is composed of collagen and protein matrix that is produced, assembled, and maintained by a relatively small number of chondrocytes. Damage to articular cartilage may result from abnormal mechanical stress on the joint or an idiopathic phenomenon. These abnormal stresses can include congenital deformities, abnormal conformation, or trauma.

Disruption to the normal articular surface or joint instability can alter the normal wear pattern of joint cartilage and increase the turnover rate of the articular matrix. Even though this process is largely inflammatory in nature, it is accelerated by cytokines and prostaglandins released by synovial cells into the joint. The joint capsule then proceeds to thicken and periarticular osteophytes form in the body’s attempt to stabilize the joint.

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