Dogs and cats, like people, can suffer from arthritis. The term arthritis is usually used to describe a chronic, degenerative condition involving the bones and soft tissue around a joint. Arthritis means inflammation of the joint. It can affect one or many joints of the body. Causes of arthritis include degeneration due to age wear and tear, inherited disease such as hip dysplasia and trauma to a joint following an injury, obesity is an important risk factor for arthritis.
How do I know if my dog has arthritis?
The signs of arthritis can be slow in developing and are often attributed to “slowing down with age”. Many pets become quiet and withdrawn with the chronic low grade pain associated with arthritis. You may notice some of the following:
- Difficulty getting up after rest
- Reluctance to move or play
- Reduced appetite
- Behavioural changes
- Licking around joints
How can I care for my dog at home?
There are now many options available to help alleviate the discomfort of arthritis. The disease can be controlled, rather than cured completely. By making some small changes at home you can greatly help your pet to cope with arthritis. Ensure your pet’s sleeping area is warm and draught free with padded, non-slip bedding. Place bedding on a flat surface instead of a hammock bed. Dog coats can provide extra warmth in winter. Provide regular gentle exercise. This may mean two 10 minute lead walks daily instead of running after balls off lead every few days. Keep your pet at a healthy weight to reduce the weight load on the joints. Daily massage is relaxing and calming and improves circulation to the area. Heat packs are often well tolerated and can be placed over sore muscles and joints to relieve tension and improve circulation.
What medical treatments are available for arthritis?
Synovan injections : This drug inhibits cartilage breakdown, stimulates cartilage regrowth, improves the quality of joint fluid and improves circulation to the joint. The injections are given as a course of 1 injection weekly for 4 weeks. This course is repeated every 4 – 6 months. Nutritional supplements : These provide the body with the ingredients needed to help rebuild cartilage in the joints. Glucosamine and chondroitin are the main ingredients needed to create new cartilage. Glyde powder and Blackwell’s multivitamin treats are both good ways of supplementing your pet’s diet. Anti-inflammatories : These can be given as a liquid or tablet orally with food and are available for long term pain relief. Please don’t give your pet human medications as these can be very toxic. Acupuncture: This can be utilised in pets with arthritis. It can improve circulation, relieve muscle tension and improve mobility in affected pets. If you think your pet may be suffering from arthritis, please ask us further about treatment options available. Sometimes x-rays may be indicated to assess the severity of the arthritis. An initial consultation and examination will guide us to which treatment option is most appropriate for your pet. The quality of life of many pets suffering from arthritis can be improved greatly.
If you suspect your pet may have Athritis, please Contact Us to book an appointment.