Arthritis

As the colder weather is starting to approach, you may notice your pet starting to show some behavioural/clinical changes. Some of these changes could be linked to Arthritis, so it is important to understand the disease and book an appointment with your veterinary practice if you are concerned.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis (osteoarthritis) is a very common condition that affects joints causing them to become swollen and painful. Animals suffer from this condition just as much as humans do so it is essential to recognise the signs.

Arthritis occurs when the cartilage within a joint becomes worn or damaged, causing the bones to rub against one another instead of gliding.

Causes of Arthritis

There are a couple of causes of Arthritis with the most common being wear and tear in older animals; this can take place in just one joint or more.

Arthritis can also be seen in younger animals, where they have problems with bone and joint development.

Certain breeds are known to have an increased risk of developing Arthritis due to their genetics. Some of these breeds include:

  • Labradors
  • Springer Spaniels
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Rottweilers

Animals with hip or elbow dysplasia are also highly likely to getting Arthritis, and also cases where trauma/damage has occurred (fractures/ligament damage)

Signs of Arthritis

The most common signs of Arthritis are:

  • Stiffness
  • Limping
  • Muscle atrophy (muscle loss)
  • Difficulty rising
  • Reluctance in going for a walk or playing
  • Lethargy/grumpiness

If you see one or more of these signs, then we would advise booking an appointment for an assessment.

Diagnosis

Arthritis is diagnosed by a combination of clinical signs, manipulation of the joints and x-rays.

How do you treat Arthritis?

Arthritis is a progressive disease, which means it slowly gets worse over time and is not curable. However, it is treatable. These combined treatments will help to slow down the progression and manage the pain:

  • Anti-inflammatories drugs – these will help to reduce the swelling and the pain. Regular blood tests may be required to check liver and kidney function
  • Joint supplements – these can be used alongside other drugs, to provide joint health
  • Weight management – minimises the weight load and pressure on the joints
  • Exercise regime – Regular controlled walks and hydrotherapy is often recommended to prevent the joints from stiffening

Other things that can help support Arthritis at home are:

  • Covering any slippery floors
  • Providing a ramp into the car and oversteps where appropriate
  • Keeping them warm in the colder months
  • Providing them with a padded and comfortable bed

Summary

Arthritis is a life-long condition that requires good management and compliance from the owner. It slowly gets worse over time, but with the right home care and medication, animals can live comfortably for many years.

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