Identifying and managing arthritis in your pets

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As winter temperatures arrive, arthritis cases in both young and old pets often increase.

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting dogs, with one in five dogs suffering from its pain and disability. Cats can also experience the debilitating effects of arthritis, struggling with grooming and using the toilet. Despite its prevalence, the early signs of arthritis in pets are often missed or attributed to old age, as pets cannot communicate their pain.

Arthritis is a chronic, painful, degenerative condition that develops gradually, affecting one or more joints – typically the hips, knees, and elbows – causing significant inflammation and pain. It can affect any pet, regardless of breed or age, severely impacting their quality of life and limiting their ability to enjoy daily activities such as walking, running, or playing.

Signs your pet may have arthritis

• Reluctance to walk or play
• Limping
• Joint stiffness in the morning or after sleep
• Licking or biting of joints
• Difficulty rising from a resting position
• Difficulty climbing stairs
• Change in personality – less happy/playful, or sometimes aggressive/irritable.

Managing arthritis

While arthritis cannot be cured, its pain and progression can be managed effectively. The key is to control the inflammation within the joints, thereby slowing the condition’s progression.

Weight control: Managing your pet’s weight is crucial. Excess weight puts additional pressure on already affected joints, exacerbating pain and discomfort.

Exercise: Regular walking and swimming are excellent forms of exercise for dogs with arthritis. These activities help maintain joint mobility without putting undue stress on the joints.

Omega-3 fatty acids: These help block the inflammation around joints that causes pain and suppress the activity of an enzyme that damages cartilage, thus slowing arthritis progression.

Joint cartilage protective medications: Polysulfate injections have been proven to slow the progression of arthritis and help control pain. Anti-inflammatory medications can also be used to alleviate pain.

Medical breakthroughs: New treatments, including monoclonal antibody injections, have shown remarkable results in treating arthritis pain in dogs and cats. These injections target a protein that stimulates pain in arthritic patients, offering significant relief.

Nutraceuticals: Products like Green Lipped Mussel contain chondroitin and glucosamine, which are essential for cartilage health. They have shown good results in managing arthritis in dogs.

Prescription joint diets: Specialised diets for both dogs and cats can help alleviate discomfort and improve joint function.

Arthritis is a serious condition that requires proactive management to ensure your pet’s comfort and quality of life.

If you notice any signs of arthritis in your pet, it’s important to seek veterinary advice.

For a thorough assessment and tailored treatment plan, contact Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital at 4736 2027.

With the right care and treatment, your pet can continue to enjoy a happy, active life despite arthritis.

Kellie Tickner, Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital

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