ARTHRITIS IN PETS Blog
The bones are protected by a layer of cartilage and over time, wear and tear damages the cartilage, and the bone to bone friction causes inflammation and pain.
The onset of inflammation brings forth further cartilage destruction and may eventually cause changes to the underlying bone structure.
Although it is a disease that is usually associated with aging, a traumatic event to a joint can cause younger animals to develop arthritis earlier. Dogs participating in high impact activities, or obese animals are also more prone to early arthritis as the joints are subjected to higher impact.
Signs to look out for:
- Reluctance to walk
- Stiff in the morning or getting up, but gets better as they walk around
- Takes a prolonged time to lie down
- Increased effort climbing stairs and getting in the bed or car
- Licking at a joint
- Reluctance to be touched/petted
- Reduced level of activity
What can you, as an owner, do?
Arthritic pets should continue to have low impact and supervised exercises to prevent weight gain which may further stress the joints. For dogs, swimming is an excellent activity. Frequent short walks on soft ground are better than one long walk per day.
If overweight, weight loss is the first and most important step. Start a discussion with your veterinarian to assess your pet’s body condition and how to achieve the ideal weight. Blood work can be done to rule out conditions that may predispose an animal to gain weight.
What can your vet recommend?
• Supplements are usually the first step. Nutritional supplements such as glucosamine contain compounds that support cartilage structure, prevent further deterioration, suppress inflammation, and reduce free radical damage. Omega 3 fatty acids are a mild anti-inflammatory and overall anti-aging supplement. We may also recommend and prescribe various combinations of homeopathics and/or herbal therapies to further control the disease.
• Therapeutic modalities such as V.O.M, i-Therm, acupuncture and massage can provide additional non-drug pain control when done regularly.
• Pharmaceuticals may be required to help reduce inflammation and suppress pain in pets with advanced arthritis. To minimize and monitor for any side effects, your veterinarian will recommend to regularly monitor your pet’s blood work. This will ensure the most appropriate medications are chosen for your pet.