Like humans, animals can suffer from arthritis as well. Generally it occurs in older animals but it can however occur at any age.
Arthritis usually develops slowly, so you often won’t notice the changes in your animal over time. There are a few clues animals can give us to let us know they are in pain but often these signs are not very obvious.
Arthritis Symptoms to look out for:
Signs of Dog Arthritis:
- Hesitant to jump into and out of cars
- Hesitant to climb stairs
- Play less and spend more time sleeping
Signs of Cat Arthritis:
- Play less frequently and spend more time sleeping
- Hesitant to climb stairs
- Hesitant to jump onto/off chairs, beds etc.
- Groom less
Diagnosing Arthritis in Cats and Dogs
Often with cats and dogs arthritis treatment is based on signs and symptoms without a confirmed diagnosis.
Radiography can be used to help determine if bony changes are present but often these changes do not occur until the disease has been present and causing pain for many years.
What can we do to Treat Animal Arthritis?
There are a few different treatment options for pets with arthritis and the best option for one isn’t always the best option for all. Below are a few of the more common options but feel free to discuss with the Vet team, to find the best option for you and your pet.
Prescription Diets: These are often the easiest for both pets and owners to change to. There are two main diets we stock to help with arthritis and for most pets they are very helpful. Hills j/d and Eukanuba Joint mobility both work on similar principles of combining the usual joint supplements of glucosamine and chondroitin with specific inflammation reducing ratios of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. They also contain L-Carnitine to help metabolize excess fat.
Pentosan: This drug treats the underlying disease, repairs the damage done and helps to prevent the progression of arthritis. It relieves pain and inflammation, as well as stimulating joint fluid production, cartilage repair and production. Pentosan comes in the form of an injection administered by the vet. It involves four injections at 7 day intervals, then booster injections every 3 months.
What can you do at home?
Joint problems are often aggravated by increased weight causing additional pain and damage to the joint.
A set feeding plan may be necessary to help your pet lose weight and a reduced calorie diet may need to be considered, even if just short term.
Gentle, controlled exercise is best for arthritic animals. With cats this is difficult and often it is best just to encourage gentle playing indoors.
With dogs regular gentle walks on flat ground are best. It is best to restrict fast or rugged play. Hydrotherapy or even just a swim at the beach is a great way of maintaining muscle strength, without putting extra strain on struggling joints.
Both cats and dogs should have a well-padded bed in a warm area away from drafts.