What to do about my pet’s arthritis?
EXACTLY what is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease that may affect any joint but is commonly found in a pet’s hip, elbow, shoulder, stifle (knee), carpus (wrist), hock (ankle) or intervertebral joints (in the spine).
It occurs when cartilage in the joint is damaged, either following a traumatic event or with wear and tear that increases in athletic animals, obese animals, or when the joint is congenitally abnormal.
Cartilage decreases joint stress by reducing impact on the ends of the bones in joints, like a gelatinous shock absorber.
When cartilage is damaged, a cascade of inflammatory changes occurs, eventually leading to destruction of the cartilage and subsequent damage to the underlying bone.
Cartilage contains no nerves – if your pet is showing any signs of pain, the damage and changes in underlying bone have already begun. Signs of arthritis include: usual length once the pet has ‘warmed up’) • Difficulty climbing stairs, climbing in the car, on the bed or a sofa
• Difficulty rising from rest
• Limping Abnormal gait
• Licking of a single joint
• Acting withdrawn, spending less time playing with family (which is often misunderstood as a sign of ‘aging’)
• Soreness when touched
• Rarely, aggression when touched or approached
Exactly what can I do?
Weight Reduction: If your pet is overweight, this can make signs of osteoarthritis worse. Please speak to your vet about the best ways to reduce your pets’ weight.
Controlled Exercise: Lowimpact exercise is best; swimming or walking through shallow water is ideal. Leash walking and controlled jogging are also acceptable.
Arthritis injections: This is the first line of medical therapy and has very few side-effects with great results. A course of 4 Zydax injections are given every week for 4 weeks and this is repeated every 6 months or as needed.
Nutraceuticals: Synergistic combinations of nutraceuticals such as glucosamine/ chondroitin/sulfate/green lipped muscle contain compounds that support cartilage structure, prevent further deterioration, suppress inflammation, and reduce free radical damage. There are several reputable brands of neutraceuticals available at your local vet and pet food supplier.
Prescription Diets: These are specially formulated diets that ease pain, slow the progression of arthritis, and often enable the reduction of anti-inflammatory drugs. It is also calorie controlled to prevent weight gain.
Prescription Drugs: are available that can reduce inflammation and suppress pain in dogs with more advanced minimised by monitoring your dog’s blood work and this is recommended to be carried out every 6-12 months. Please contact your local vet if you think your pet is in need of prescription drugs to aid treatment for osteoarthritis.