Does your pet seem a little stiffer in the mornings? Do you notice any hesitation jumping up or down? Your pet may be experiencing joint pain. Arthritis is a degenerative disease that occurs from long-term stresses acting on your pet’s joints. The result is inflammation within the joint and pain. So what should you be looking for clinically in your pets?
- Reduction in activity
- Reduction in grooming
- Hesitation jumping up or down
- Stiffness when getting up from a nights sleep or nap
- Increased vocalization
If you are observing any of these signs in your pet, it is worth a visit to your veterinarian. During your pet’s physical exam, your veterinarian will flex, extend and palpate each joint. They may find a reduced range of motion, pain or crepitus within the joints. Your veterinarian may wish to take radiographs (x-rays) to confirm this diagnosis or rule out other suspected conditions.
Unfortunately there is no cure for arthritis; however, there is a lot your veterinarian team can do to make your pet more comfortable. Considering it is a degenerative condition, it is important to start these interventions early. The mainstays of arthritis management involve:
- Weigh management: Ensuring your pet is at their ideal body weight is one of the most important things you can do. If you are not sure if your pet is overweight, please bring them into the clinic for a weight consult.
- Diet: There are a variety of diets enriched with joint supplements, controlled calories and antioxidants to help maintain a healthy weight and avoid extra stress on joints.
- Joint supplements (Nutraceuticals): OMEGA 3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, antioxidants and Adequan can help to preserve joint cartilage.
- Physical therapy and regular exercise: Keeping your pet active and maintaining good muscle mass is very important. However, activity should be low impact and low intensity.
- Environmental modification: Providing ramps instead of stairs, placing carpet over hardwood or slippery floors and harnesses can be used to help with your pet’s mobility and reduce strain on joints.
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medication: There are a variety of pain medications that may be appropriate for your senior pet. These are especially important in acute flare-ups of arthritis or when the disease becomes advanced.
A multimodal approach involving a combination of the above therapies is often the best way to manage arthritis. If you are interested in learning more about being prepared or managing arthritis in your pet, please contact us at Coxwell Animal Clinic.
Written by: Dr. Monica Marshman, DVM