Can pets get arthritis?
Dogs and cats not only can but do suffer from arthritis. In Nova Scotia, where we have cold and damp winters, we see arthritis in many senior pets, especially dogs. Overweight dogs tend to suffer the most, since their added bulk puts additional stress on their joints.
Many owners do not realise that their pet is suffering from arthritis. They know that their pet is less willing to jump up onto the bed lately, or that he or she is getting stiff. Owners often do not realise that this can be treated, so that their pet can run and play well into his or her old age.
What are the signs of arthritis?
Signs of arthritis are:
Lameness, limping, general stiffness of movement, reluctance to climb stairs, less willing to run or play, reluctance to get up, and decreased interaction with the family.
If you think your pet might be suffering from arthritis, it might be time to take your pet to the veterinarian! Arthritis is a progressive disease, and the sooner it is caught, the easier it is to treat. If you suspect that your pet might have arthritis, the time to act is now.
How can arthritis be treated?
Treatment of arthritis consists of reducing your pet's pain and discomfort, preventing further damage to the joints, and altering your pet's lifestyle to reduce strain on his or her joints. If your pet is overweight, it is very important to put your pet on a diet, so that the added weight doesn't put extra strain on her damaged joints. exercise is also important, but it should be low-impact, smooth exercise like long, calm walks or swimming during the summer (do not take your arthritic pet swimming in winter water!).
Glucosamine/chondroitin is a common treatment for human arthritis, since it helps with cartilage repair. It is available in special pet formulations. Speak to your veterinarian to find out what your pet's dose should be. For dogs, we often recommend Royal Canin's Mobility Support diet which contains a special extract from green lipped mussels. Green lipped mussel power is clinically proven to reduce signs of joint pain in dogs. Owners often notice a difference in their pets only a few weeks into feeding Mobility Support, although it takes six weeks or longer to achieve full effect. You can read more about Royal Canin's Mobility Support, or Hill's j/d (which is similar) by going to the companies' websites.
For more advanced cases of arthritis, your pet may benefit from medication such as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Do not give an 'over the counter' medication such as aspirin to your dog or cat, as these can be quite dangerous. There are safe alternatives available from your veterinarian that can really improve your pet's quality of life. In some cases, the veterinarian may even recommend orthopedic surgery to deal with your pet's arthritis.
A new treatment now available for the treatment of arthritis in dogs is Stem Cell Therapy. Stem Cells are harvested from a small sample of your dog's body fat, isolated and purified, and injected into affected joints. The stem cells are your pet's own natural healing cells that help regenerate injured tissues. Regenerative stem cells have been shown to improve quality of life, regenerate healthy tissue, and signal to the animal's own healing cells, calling additional cells to the injury site for improved healing. Please visit www.vet-stem.com.