There are many different types of arthritis but the most common is osteoarthritis. It is caused by deterioration of the joint and is present in almost all middle aged and elderly dogs and cats.
When the joint deteriorates, there is inflammation, the blood vessels become blocked, the fluid which helps cushion the joint becomes poor quality and the joint cartilage that acts as a shock-absorber is damaged.
Arthritis is a painful condition. Signs of pain include:
- Sleeping and resting more than usual
- Reluctance to play and exercise
- Difficulty going up and down stairs, getting into the car or onto the sofa
- Being more grumpy than normal
- Seeming stressed or clingy
Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease and cannot be treated, but it can be managed, enabling animals to have an excellent quality of life
Options for managing osteoarthritis in older pets include:
- Changes in the home – cover slippery floors with rugs and provide your pet with good quality bedding.
- Supplements such as Yumove made from:
- Glucosamine to helps build up joint cartilage
- Hyaluronic acid which makes up the fluid inside joints for cushioning and protection
- Green lipped mussels which contains chondroitin and omega 3, proven to soothe stiff joints and maintain healthy cartilage.
- Weight loss – older pets with reduced mobility exercise less so tend to gain weight. This puts extra strain on the joints. Our veterinary nurses run free weight clinics so can help tailor a diet and exercise regime for your pet, taking into account any medical conditions and can monitor your pet’s progress regularly.
- Prescription diets – Hills Joint Care diet is enriched with many of the ingredients of Yumove (described above) and is proven to help protect the joint cartilage.
- Cartrophen – a course of 4 injections, each given 5-7 days apart. Cartrophen helps to slow the progression of arthritis by stimulating cartilage production, improving the quality of the joint fluid and increasing blood supply and nutrition to the joint. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Pain relief – many different pain relieving medications are available for pets. Usually we start with an anti-inflammatory, and then if necessary, we can add in further medications. We do recommend having a blood test prior to starting any long term medication to ensure all the organs, such as the liver and kidneys, are functioning well.
- Surgery. In some patients, operations to replace or fuse joints can be beneficial, but are usually a last resort.
If you are concerned that your pet may have osteoarthritis, visit your local surgery for an examination and to discuss your pet’s treatment.