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Arthritis

Arthritis

Arthritis is a common problem for both cats and dogs. We have gathered some information to help you identify the symptoms and take action to keep your pet enjoying their normal daily activities.

What Is Arthritis?

Photo Credit: Hill’s Atlas of Veterinary Clinical Anatomy

Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects joints. It is characterized by the breaking down of smooth cartilage that covers and protects the bones that form a joint. Any stress on the joint will increase the rate of degeneration. Once the cartilage is gone the bones grind against each other with regular movement, making even the slightest movement quite painful.

Symptoms:

  • Walking stiffly
  • Limping, lameness, or favoring certain limbs
  • Showing stiffness or discomfort when getting up from a lying-down position
  • Stiff, swollen or sore joints
  • Painful when touched in certain areas
  • Uncomfortable or painful in certain positions
  • Loss of flexibility in their joints
  • Hesitation to jump, run or climb stairs

Diagnosis:

Arthritis is a common ailment and should be discussed during your pet’s annual physical exam as they get older. Radiographs, as well as other diagnostic tests, can help determine the cause and location of the inflammation. The patient’s medical history, such as previous injuries or possible congenital conditions, can help your veterinarian determine the type of arthritis and best course of treatment.

Causes:

  • Joint infection
  • Dislocation or Trauma
  • Congenital conditions such as hip dysplasia
  • Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis (IMPA)
  • Obesity
  • Ligament, tendon or muscle injury
  • Fracture of a bone that involves a joint
  • Aging and natural erosion of cartilage       

Prevention:

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight may help prevent arthritis or slow its progression once the condition has developed. However, arthritic conditions cannot always be predicted or prevented, especially those that are congenital. Genetic tests are available to determine if your pet has the specific genetic markers and is at risk for developing these conditions.

Treatment:

Once arthritis has developed, there is no cure. The goal then is to prevent progression of the disease and minimize your pet’s pain. Some treatment options may include:

  • Prescription medication such as analgesics or anti-inflammatories
  • Nutritional supplements such as Glucosamine, Chondroitin or Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Physical Therapy or regular, low-impact exercise such as walking or swimming
  • Weight loss, if necessary
  • Surgery
  • Holistics Treatments such as Acupuncture, Herbal medications, & other alternative therapies

Note: Advil (Ibuprofen), Tylenol (Acetaminophen), & Aleve (Naproxen) are toxic and NEVER should be given to pets. Do not give your pet any other human over-the-counter medications without first checking with your veterinarian.

Feline Note: Cats are more sensitive to drugs and should only be given medication and supplements intended for use in cats.

At home suggestions to make your pet more comfortable:

  • Provide proper bedding such as an orthopedic foam bed
  • Have short, gentle play sessions
  • Provide gentle massages and physical therapy
  • Elevate food and water to shoulder level
  • Groom the areas that may be hard to reach
  • Provide ramps in place of stairs or a place they usually jump up to
  • Daily low-impact exercise such as walking or swimming
  • For cats, provide a little box with shorter walls

If you notice any of these symptoms or changes in daily routine, your pet’s yearly physical exam is a perfect opportunity to discuss these issues with your veterinarian.  Give us a call at 444-5797 to schedule an appointment.