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Arthritis In Pets

Could your pet have arthritis? Many animals – both dogs and cats – will develop arthritis as they age. Early signs can be subtle and may easily be missed, especially in cats. Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease of the joints. Any joint can be affected but it is commonly found in the hips, knees, shoulders, elbows and the spine. Arthritis develops following trauma to a joint, or over a longer term, after years of wear and tear to the cartilage in the joint.

Signs of arthritis can include: reluctance to exercise; lameness; stiffness; difficulty rising from the ground or climbing stairs; difficulty jumping short heights, such as into a car or onto furniture; pain when touched; or, rarely, aggression when touched.

The good news is that there are many options we can use to help slow the progression of arthritis and control the patient’s pain. Diet and exercise play an important role in treatment: overweight pets likely need to lose weight; and low-impact, controlled exercise is a vital activity for maintaining strength in muscles so they can support arthritic joints.

Supplements such as glucosamine/chondroitin, Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants are beneficial to many animals because they support cartilage and reduce inflammation. Several pet food companies have developed joint health formulas with these supplements incorporated into the food (e.g., Hill’s “J/D” and Royal Canin “Mobility Support”). These foods have been shown to be quite effective in many pets. Chondroprotective injectable agents such as Adequan help many animals by preserving the cartilage within the joints.

There are prescription drugs available to help with both inflammation and pain, and although side effects can be seen with these medications, regular blood work monitoring can minimize them. It is crucial that you never give human medications to your pet. Hardly any human medications are safe for animals; no medical treatment should be pursued without first talking to a veterinarian.

There are also many alternative therapies that can be used for arthritic pets to minimize pain and also help decrease the amount of prescription medicated needed. These therapies include cold laser therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage.

If you have any questions regarding arthritis and your pet, please call us at 503-774-3363.

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