SENIOR PETS - ARTHRITIS AND MOBILITY
With the onset of cooler weather, older pets may be feeling reluctant to jump out of bed in the morning to go for a walk. It’s common for pet families to think that ‘slowing down’ is a natural part of the ageing process; however, there are several ways that we can help to reduce the inflammation, pain and discomfort of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) is an inflammatory condition of the joint leading to deterioration of cartilage and reduction in viscosity of joint fluid, which can cause pain and loss of mobility. It can occur in any cat or dog but those most predisposed to the condition include older pets and those with obesity, stress injuries, infection, improper nutrition or genetic make-up.
The most common joints affected are hips, shoulders, elbows and knees where the cartilage provides cushioning for the joint as it moves. As the cartilage becomes damaged the bones surfaces begin to rub together causing inflammation, pain and discomfort.
One big point to remember is that dogs almost never cry or wince in pain when suffering from Osteoarthritis, and cats also hide their pain very well, so be on the lookout for clinical signs as below.
Signs and Symptoms
Stiffness upon rising or laying down
Licking at joints
Reluctance to be touched
Reluctance to exercise
Arthritis cannot be cured but it can be managed.
We may recommend blood tests and x-rays to better assess the damage to your pet’s joints and to ensure that the liver and kidneys are healthy prior to commencing medications.
Treatments that may be offered by our vets include:
Anti-Arthritis injections which simultaneously block the chemical pathways in cartilage breakdown and increase the thickness of joint fluid for better lubrication.
Medications such as anti-inflammatories which help to reduce pain as well as inflammation.
New generation nutriceuticals, such as 4 Cyte and Hills j/d, that act as natural anti-inflammatories and joint protectants.
Rehabilitation such as hydrotherapy using an underwater treadmill, or remedial massage.
Regular Wellness Visits to the Vet
By visiting us regularly, we’ll be able to conduct a physical examination, evaluate your pet’s response to treatments and recommend strategies for on-going treatment and management.
Speak to our vets at your next visit to discuss the recommended frequency of your pet’s check ups.
Supporting Your Cat or Dog at Home
In between vet visits there are several ways you can help your pet to feel more comfortable at home and to help slow the progress of the disease:
Dogs Although you may need to reduce your dog’s more strenuous activities such as chasing balls or playing with other dogs, it is essential to encourage movement to prevent stiffening of joints, weight gain and muscle wastage. One or two short gentle walks a day will provide both physical and mental stimulation. Cats Moderate, low-impact activities such as gentle play can help reduce joint pain in arthritic cats. Additionally, keeping the ligaments and muscles around the joints strong and limber through exercise may slow the progression of the condition. However, it is important to avoid activities in which cats have to leap, jump, turn quickly, or run as these can cause damage to their joints.
Nutritional support and weight management
As your pet’s physical activity is reduced, their diet will need to be assessed to prevent weight gain and to ensure optimal nutritional support for joints. Prescription diets for joint support generally feature foods which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and help to reduce inflammation around the joints. We carry a range of prescriptive diets at Oakleigh Central Vet. Our qualified nurses are on hand to help you choose the best food for your pet’s mobility and joint health.
There are many beds on the market which offer comfort and support for sore arthritic
joints. Choose a bed that is firm but supportive (e.g. memory foam) and does not
have a ‘lip’ that could cause your cat or dog to trip over. Beds that are slightly elevated will be easier for your pet to get out of in the morning without straining.
Portable ramps and steps can make life a lot easier for a cat or dog that is used to climbing onto the bed or dogs jumping into the car.
Do you think your cat or dog may have arthritis?
Although there is no cure for arthritis there are ways we can help your pet to feel more comfortable. Please speak with one of our experienced veterinarians to discuss options and learn what you can do to help your pet.
To book a veterinary consultation please book online or call us on (03) 9568 2211.