Rottweiler Degenerative Bone Disease: Signs and Treatment

Close up of rottweiler in front of lake

The Rottweiler is a robust working breed of great strength descended from the mastiffs of the Roman legions. Rottweilers make excellent watchdogs, and they are capable of alerting the family to strange noises and the presence of intruders. They are courageous, steadfast guard dogs, and highly protective of their owners and property. The Rottweiler’s body is well-proportioned and very strong. Male Rottweilers will stand from 24 to 27 inches at the shoulder, while females run slightly smaller and lighter. A large breed dog, Rottweilers can weigh anywhere from 110 lbs. to about 125 or 130 lbs.

Rottweilers are strong, sturdy, and handsome. But like all breeds, there are some health problems you should be aware of. Most commonly seen are intervertebral disc disorders, elbow dysplasia, and hip dysplasia. One lesser-known disorder is DBD, which may attack the skeleton at any stage in a dog’s life. Therefore, it is essential to monitor your Rottweiler’s body condition throughout their lives. Rottweiler degenerative bone disease is a disease that can be prevented by early detection.

This article will help you understand the causes and clinical signs of Rottweiler degenerative bone disease, treatment, life expectancy, and more.

Rottweiler Degenerative Bone Disease Explained

Rottweiler degenerative bone disease, as the name suggests, is a degenerative condition often referred to as joint disease or arthritis that is common in Rottweilers. Rottweiler degenerative bone disease is an ailment that affects nearly all dogs as they age. The disorder occurs because of the dog’s inability to produce sufficient mucopolysaccharides, essential for developing and maintaining the proper bone structure. The result is a gradual weakening and thinning of the bones in your Rottweiler’s body, which can lead to further complications, including painful arthritis and spinal cord injuries.

Medically, it is classified as a generalized or localized osteoarthritis that affects cartilage and bone. However, it goes beyond just the joints and can involve internal tumors and external problems. Degenerative bone disease causes pain and inflammation of the bones. It is a debilitating condition that can lead to deformities of the joints and other painful parts of the body and often hinders mobility.

Rottweiler degenerative bone disease is a disease where the bones are affected by chronic degenerative and destructive processes characterized by softening hard tissues such as cartilage, bone, and tendons. It is often referred to as “bone on bone” because that is what it feels like when you touch it.

Rottweiler’s degenerative bone disease can be excruciating, as it affects the cartilage of the dog’s joints and causes arthritis, which may lead to arthritis symptoms in the limbs of dogs with Rottweiler degenerative bone disease. Without proper management, degenerative bone disease can serve as a life-threatening condition for an American Rottweiler. Dogs affected by Rottweiler degenerative bone disease need owners who can recognize the signs and symptoms, know the treatments available and remember that sometimes a combination of treatment methods is necessary for a full recovery.

Causes of Rottweiler Degenerative Bone Disease

There are many causes of DBD, and no single cause has been identified. Because there are various causes for Rottweiler degenerative bone disease, it is difficult to know if it is inherited. Some pet owners will automatically blame genetics when they first learn their pet has the disease. This may have some truth, but it should not be the first thing you should suspect. Remember, Rottweilers can get this disease regardless of their parentage and family history.

Some factors have been associated with an increased risk of developing this condition. These include age, obesity, genetics, athletic activity, and primary hip or elbow dysplasia diagnosis. Other possible risk factors include infections such as Lyme Disease and improper nutrition.

Degenerative bone diseases in a Rottweiler tend to affect middle-aged to senior dogs; however, there have been reports of young dogs with inherited genetic defects causing DBD. In addition, in some large breed dogs, such as the American Rottweiler, specific genes are known to contribute to the development of degenerative bone disease. Also, repetitive stress from athletic activities such as agility, flyball, or diving can put a tremendous amount of pressure on your dog’s joints and cartilage. This can lead to the development of degenerative bone disease. You are introducing more opportunity for trauma or injury to the weight-bearing joints, another cause of a slow onset of DBD.

Obesity and malnutrition are two of the most common health problems experienced by an American Rottweiler. When obesity develops even in older dogs, it can harm the bones and joints. Obesity also causes inflammation of the joints, leading to further bone damage and destruction. Also, if fed too much protein, fat, or foods that contain high levels of glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate supplements, your American Rottweiler can begin to develop degenerative bone disease.

Finally, undiagnosed arthritic conditions can be a risk factor for degenerative bone disease.

rottweiler in grass field

How Degenerative Bone Disease Can Affect Your Rottweiler

Degenerative bone disease is a problem Rotties commonly face. As an American Rottweiler ages, their bones lose cartilage and become inflamed. Bones may also develop cracks and loose fragments. This is especially common for an American Rottweiler because of the stress placed on their muscular structure and joints due to heightened physical activity.

The degenerative bone disease Rotties are prone to has several potential symptoms. Rottweilers can have problems walking or even standing, especially as they get older. It can also worsen the pain associated with Osteoarthritis and degenerative myelopathy. Rottweiler Degenerative Myelopathy typically begins with difficulty standing or walking, particularly on slippery surfaces such as hardwood floors or tile. Pain may be present in one or both hind legs and possibly increased when pressure is applied to the back or spine.

Many dogs with bone degeneration may experience hind limb lameness, achondroplasia (a bone deformity where the limbs are abnormally short), or hip dysplasia. As a result, the dog may lose balance when walking and have difficulty running, jumping up or downstairs, or even rising from lying positions.

In addition, degenerative bone disease can make it more difficult for him to climb stairs and jump in cars. An American Rottweiler with DBD will often experience pain and stiffness in their joints combined with a reduction in the range of motion around them. An American Rottweiler diagnosed with DBD may appear in pain and be uncomfortable when touched or handled over the affected area but will often show no response or expression of discomfort from the pain.

A common effect from DBD is lameness and loss of function in the front and hind legs in your American Rottweiler. The disease may affect joints throughout the body but is most commonly seen in the hip, shoulder, and elbow joints of the legs. When a dog’s bones are injured or develop abnormally, there is no way to repair them, so they lose strength and start to collapse over time. In addition, the cartilage that cushions the joints wear down, and the bones grind together, causing great pain. There are many degenerative bone diseases, but all are characterized by progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass with some variation in the types and magnitude of clinical symptoms.

Veterinarians have ranked degenerative bone disease in dogs as one of the top three diseases responsible for non-accidental canine euthanasia (along with cancer and heart disease). The good news is early and effective treatment can go a long way to improve your dog’s quality of life and longevity.

Life Expectancy of a Rottweiler With Degenerative Bone Disease

It is no secret that a Rottweiler has an average lifespan of about nine years. But to be more precise, the exact lifespan of Rottweilers is somewhere between 8.7 and 8.92 years. Male Rottweilers are outlived by their female counterparts by about ten months. The lifespan of female Rottweilers ranges between 7.8 and 11 years, whereas male purebred Rottweilers live between 6.8 and 10.1 years. Nevertheless, there are some outliers. Some Rottweilers have lived longer, clocking 13 years and above.

The onset of Rottweiler’s degenerative bone disease is different in each dog. Therefore, an American Rottweiler can experience the disease differently than its sibling, even in the same litter. The average age that this condition is diagnosed is six years, with some dogs showing signs as early as four months. However, it doesn’t matter how old your Rottweiler is. The disease can strike any dog and appear at any age. It affects both males and females and typically strikes older dogs.

The average lifespan for a Rottweiler affected by this disease is 4-8 years. The good news is the effects may not become noticeable until later in adulthood, depending on heredity and environmental factors. The Rottweiler Club of America confirmed that as long as these conditions are managed, they do not affect the longevity of life or health.

Signs That Your Rottweiler Might Have Degenerative Bone Disease

The first signs of degenerative bone disease in dogs are non-specific and often attributed to other causes. As a result, these symptoms may be easily overlooked or even dismissed entirely, detrimental to your dog’s health and well-being. That being said, the first and most apparent sign of degenerative bone disease is lameness. The gradual loss of cartilage causes changes in the way the bones articulate. This change in motion can result in a variety of physical symptoms. If your pet shows any signs of lameness, this is a symptom of a more significant underlying medical problem. As a pet owner, you must be aware of the signs associated with this condition to seek treatment early on. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more likely your pet will suffer from severe pain and decreased mobility.

Signs of Rottweiler degenerative bone disease can also include a change in normal gait, lameness in one or more limbs, and weight gain. Other signs to watch for include vocalization of pain, showing pain when touched, and loss of muscle mass. Weight gain is also a common symptom of Rottweiler degenerative bone disease.

It is essential to understand that pain is a protective mechanism. If your American Rottweiler hurts, they will naturally want to avoid any activity or movement causing them pain. This is commonly seen with an American Rottweiler that limps after getting out of their kennel or crate or wakes up from sleeping. As soon as they stand up, they are in pain and avoid putting weight on the painful limb. This is the body’s way of allowing them to rest and recover before exercising again.

The sooner you catch this condition, the better your chances are of successful treatment. Rottweilers are stoic animals who do not like showing pain or discomfort. As pet owners, we must look for signs of distress and seek out your vet if you suspect degenerative bone disease for your American Rottweiler.

close up of rottweiler in autumn

How To Care for and Treat Your Rottweiler for Degenerative Bone Disease

Rottweiler degenerative bone disease is a chronic condition. The first stage can be identified as mild joint instability, pain, and increased sensitivity to movement. This usually surfaces in young dogs from 4 to 5 months of age. During this initial stage, it is also possible for other joints to get affected, like the hip joints, since elbows make up to a quarter of a dog’s weight. Therefore, a veterinarian should examine your American Rottweiler for clinical criteria before diagnosing Rottweiler degenerative joint disease and propose a treatment plan.

Treatment for DBD is dependent on the severity of symptoms and whether it is in one or multiple joints. Options include medication such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, or nutraceuticals like glucosamine and chondroitin.

If your dog is suffering from more a more severe case of degenerative bone disease, you may have several surgical options available to you. One of the most common treatments involves removing a section of the hip socket and replacing it with an artificial ball joint; this procedure is called a femoral head osteotomy (FHO). However, if FHO surgery doesn’t relieve your pet’s pain or improve mobility, another option may be a total hip replacement (THR) procedure done by veterinary orthopedic surgeons. Both FHO and THR require general anesthesia to prevent unnecessary harm or discomfort to your dog.

Suppose your veterinarian recommends surgery because your dog’s quality of life has declined. However, your American Rottweiler will likely still need pain medications after surgery. Even though surgery helps alleviate pain in the affected joints, dogs with DBD often have difficulty recovering from anesthesia, so it may not be the best option for your pet.

Degenerative bone disease has been around for a long time. In the past, it was considered a genetic condition, but these days, it’s recognized that it’s instead caused by many factors determined by overall health and well-being. As more information becomes available, there are many ways to limit or prevent this debilitating progression (the inevitable breakdown of joint cartilage).

How To Help Your Rottweiler Live a Fulfilling Life With Degenerative Bone Disease

Although there is no cure for Rottweiler’s degenerative bone disease, you can help slow its progress by feeding your dog a diet rich in calcium and other nutrients needed to maintain healthy bones. The first thing you need to know about your Rottweiler’s diet is he should get 25% of his calories from protein and the remaining 75% from fats and carbohydrates. The best way to get this ratio is to provide him with a commercial dog food formulated for large breed Rottweilers. You can supplement his diet with fruits, vegetables, yogurt, eggs, meat, and other protein sources. He can even eat other dogs’ food if yours isn’t available or tasty enough for your Rottweiler. It’s best to feed your American Rottweiler three times a day, divided into three meals of equal size. Always make sure fresh, clean water is also available.

Treats should be given in moderation; don’t let him become overweight. You should avoid giving your dog certain human foods like table scraps, candy, cookies, and ice cream because they’re high in calories, sugar, and fat and can cause health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

Proper exercise and resting routines are essential for your American Rottweiler. He needs an active lifestyle so he doesn’t gain too much weight or become bored at home. In addition, a daily exercise routine can help alleviate some of the pain and stiffness he may be experiencing and prevent additional damage to the joints.

If your Rottweiler is already diagnosed with degenerative bone disease, you can still exercise and have fun routines with toys to improve your Rotties quality of life. However, you may also rely more on a restfulness routine.

By providing your American Rottweiler with plenty of opportunities for rest and relaxation, you can give him time to recoup from periods of activity that may have caused him discomfort or pain. Prolonged rest periods may also help prevent any further damage or inflammation to joints or surrounding ligaments or tendons. In addition, a Rottweiler’s quality of life will often benefit from a physical therapy program that includes gentle stretching exercises and massage therapy to help improve range of motion in the joints affected by degenerative joint disease and strengthen muscles in the area.

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