Arthritis in Pets

Arthritis in Pets

By Michael Russell

Arthritis occurs when the joint surfaces which are supposed to glide over each other become rough as they rub together. The joint cartilage, which aids smooth movement of the joint, decreases it’s lubrication and deteriorates, thus making movement more difficult and often painful. Pets are just as susceptible to arthritis as humans.

Have you noticed your pet moving at a slower pace? Does your dog have trouble jumping about and running around? Does it take several small jumps rather than a single leap for your cat to reach the counter? If your pet is having difficulty in performing these routine movements and has reduced mobility, chances are he may be suffering from arthritis.

Arthritis in pets, as in humans, can greatly affect your pet’s health and well being. With the onset of this Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), your playful and active pet can quickly turn listless and pain ridden. This disease usually affects larger breeds of dogs, like retrievers, but it can also occur in cats. Approximately 30% of family pets suffer from arthritis. The stiffness, pain and swelling in a pet with arthritis is the same as what most human being would experience.

The cause of arthritis in pets is often different from that in people. While arthritis commonly accompanies old age in humans, dog and cat arthritis is often caused by direct injury to a joint. More old dogs and cats have arthritis than young ones, not because they are old, but because degeneration of the bones worsens over time. It occurs in large dogs more often than in cats and small dogs since the animal’s weight is primarily stressed on the joints. Also, the common causes of arthritis, such as hip and elbow dysplasia and other common bone problems, are usually diseases of large, fast-growing dogs. Arthritis, however, does occur in small dogs and cats as well. In the US, an estimate of 20% of cats suffer from arthritis.

Pets can’t discuss their pains outright. So how do we know our pet is a victim of this joint disease? Some signs that you should be mindful of are the following: change of personality, being inactive at play, lagging behind on walks, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, difficulty of rising from a resting position, limping and yelping in pain when touched. If you notice some of these signs, have your veterinarian diagnose the condition of your pet with an X-ray.

If your pet is diagnosed with arthritis, don’t panic! The good news is, there are plenty of remedies to alleviate the pain. An effective treatment duo to best relieve arthritis pain includes pain medication and weight loss. Common pain medications are analgesic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They revive the spirits of the pets by removing their pain, allowing pets to move easily and to exercise. Exercise, in turn, corrects the alignment of the joints which lets them experience less pain. A veterinarian’s prescription is necessary to determine the exact dosage for your pet. Some veterinarians recommend Omega 3 fatty acids to protect the heart, kidney and liver.

Many veterinarians recommend using supplements that protect the cartilage. Such supplement is termed as chondroprotective. It not only nourishes the cartilage but it also help pets with arthritis experience less pain. The second part of the double treatment is weight loss. Pet owners should help control their pet’s food intake. Studies show that when overweight pets lose weight, their pain significantly decreases.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Arthritis

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