As our dogs and cats age, they begin to develop arthritis just as us humans do. Most cats generally develop arthritis after the age of 8 to 10 years. This usually occurs in the spine, hips, elbows and stifles. With cats, signs of arthritis are more subtle such as reduced jumping and reduced play or reluctance to use the litter box as it is difficult to climb into. With our dogs, arthritis is widely recognised with them showing signs of lameness and decreased activity.
With dogs, arthritis is usually secondary to an injury or disorder while cats it is thought to be a primary condition.
Arthritis in our pets can be treated multiple options. A combination of analgesia, weight management, omega fatty acids, glucosamine/joint supplements, activity modification, laser therapy and rehabilitation are readily available for both our dogs and cats.
Once our pet is on the appropriate analgesia and joint supplements, then weight management and rehabilitation can begin. Ensure your pet is getting the required amount of calories to maintain a good body condition. Overweight pets cause undue stresses on joints which can worsen the arthritis condition and increase discomfort. Exercise is modified for the pet to help prevent weight gain and not to cause the pet discomfort. There are also exercises available to help retain and improve range of motion of the joints, as arthritis patients tend to have decreased the range of motion ( the ability to extend and flex joints/limbs) as well as build core stability and muscle mass.
When we incorporate all of these modalities, our arthritic pets can lead a productive, pain-free and active life.
Arthritis and joint disease is not a death sentence. We can help you help your pet!
Written by Michelle RVT