How to Tell if Your Pet has Arthritis:
Arthritis in dogs and cats is not a single disease, it’s actually an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. Just as in humans, arthritis in pets can be painful and limit their ability to walk and even exercise. Your pet’s joints take a beating from running after balls, catching frisbees or jumping off the deck. Any joint in a dog or cat’s body can be affected by arthritis but the most commonly affected joints are the hips, elbows, lower back, knees and wrists. The most common signs of joint disease include stiffness, lameness, difficulty getting up after laying down, reluctance to go on walks, jump or even climb stairs, and noticeable pain.
Although arthritis may occur at any time it’s much more common in the latter years of an animal’s life. Dogs are more likely to get arthritis than cats, but cats and other animals do suffer from arthritis. Larger dog breeds are more susceptible than smaller breeds. The Arthritis Foundation recently reported that degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis, is the most common type of dog arthritis. It affects one out of five adult dogs in the United States.
10 Causes of Cat and Dog Arthritis:
- Degenerative joint disease (i.e. osteoarthritis)
- Fractures involving the joint
- Inflammatory joint disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or Lyme disease,
- Congenital disorders, such as luxated patella
- Ligament, tendon, or muscle disease, such as a ruptured cruciate ligament
- Degenerative spinal joint disease, such as intervertebral disc disease
- Developmental disorders including hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia
- Hormonal disease and dietary disease, such as hyperparathyroidism or obesity
- Metabolic disorder including hemophilia (in dogs)
6 Ways to Treat Arthritis in Dogs and Cats:
Hydrotherapy: Light to moderate exercise helps keep stiff joints supple and mobile. The exact exercise requirements depend on the individual pet. Hydrotherapy for dogs and other small animals is ideal because it is a low-impact activity that improves muscle mass without overstressing joints.The gentle movement of the treadmill’s track combined with the soothing buoyancy of the warm water maximizes the therapeutic benefits to your pet. The water treadmill at the Animal Care Clinic in Wilsonville is excellent for treating arthritis in dogs, cats and other small animals. It helps pets recovering from an injury or neurologic issues. It also aids in chronic pain-relief and weight management and it’s a popular option for general fitness training as well. Check out our Services page for more information!
Foods: There are prescription diets available that are formulated specifically for joint health. An example would be Hill’s j/d Joint Care. Diets designed for arthritis and joint pain include beneficial additives such as therapeutic levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation, and glucosamine/chondroitin which promote healthy joints.
Natural Over-The-Counter Treatments: There are a number of over-the-counter supplements that have demonstrated effectiveness in maintaining joint health and relieving inflammation. Examples of these supplements include omega-3 fatty acids, chondroitin, glucosamine, MSM, creatine, and antioxidants. Dasuquin, for example, includes glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and ASU together to deliver comprehensive joint health support. Dasuquin products are available at the Wilsonville Animal Care Clinic
Weight Management: Maintaining your pet at a healthy, recommended weight is the most important thing you can do to help relieve arthritis in dogs, cats and other animals. Obesity increases stress on the joints. In addition, fatty tissue actively produces chemicals that promote inflammation in the body. Hydrotherapy for dogs and other small animals is a very beneficial, enjoyable and low-impact way for your pet to lose weight. Animal Care Clinic is pleased to offer this service to our clients. Check out our Services page for more information!
Lifestyle Changes: There are many small changes you can make to your pet’s day that can make a big difference in its quality of life. Arthritis worsens in cold, damp weather. Pet sweaters and warm, orthopedic beds are always good ideas. Arthritis can also make it difficult to go up and down stairs and jump in and out of cars. Ramps are available to ease these transitions. In addition, elevated food bowls can make eating and drinking more comfortable, particularly is the pet suffers from arthritis of the neck and/or back.
Drugs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and over-the-counter pain relievers may be prescribed by your veterinarian. Please do not use these medications for your pet without veterinary approval.