Updated: Oct 8, 2021
With the onset of the cooler months, many pet owners report a decline in their pets’ mobility. 🦴 Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease (DJD), is a degenerative and progressive condition of joints. It is characterised by the progressive loss of joint cartilage, bony spurs or growths and scarring of connective tissue around the joint. It can be a very painful condition to live with, but sadly affects a very large percentage of pets.
Signs that your pet is suffering from arthritis may be obvious, particularly in dogs. 🐶 These may include lameness, a stiff gait or trouble going up and down stairs. They may seem less enthusiastic to go for walks 😓 or lick excessively over their joints. However, the signs of arthritis are sometimes more subtle, particularly in cats. 🐱 For many animals suffering from arthritis, the only thing we as pet-owners notice is that they are less active then they used to be. Although we are tempted to put this down as ‘old-age’, our pets may be in a lot of pain without us realising!
Luckily, there are things we can do to help keep our older pets comfortable and enjoying a good quality of life. 🤗 One of the biggest factors is bodyweight.⚖️ We all know the feeling of having to carry a big load on our backs! When our pets are overweight, it places so much extra strain on their joints and can rapidly speed up the progression of joint disease. Keeping your pet within a healthy weight range will not only help with their mobility, it has countless other positive health implications as well! If you are concerned that your pet is overweight, please come in and talk to us about how we can best manage it. 🍽️
Low-impact exercise is not only useful in shedding those excess kilos, but also helps to maintain muscle mass to support your pets’ joints. Leash walking, sit/ stay exercises and swimming are all great options! It is usually best to avoid high-impact exercise such as running and jumping. 🏃♀️
There are countless joint supplements available for your pets. It can be overwhelming to know what is best for your furry friend. We commonly recommend one called Cartrophen (pentosan polysulfate sodium). 💉💉 This works at in several ways, including reducing the break-down of cartilage and stimulating the production of new cartilage. It improves joint lubrication and helps with nutrient delivery to the joint and bone. Finally, it stimulates antioxidants to help protect against those dreaded free radicals. Cartrophen is given as a course of 4 injections over 4 weeks and can be repeated throughout the year to ensure its effects are maintained. Another supplement we use quite commonly is one called 4cyte (active ingredient epiitalis). This is easy to add to your pet’s meal and only a very small amount is needed. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may also help. These can be found in fish oil supplements.🐟
When your pet’s discomfort becomes such that it really starts to impact on their quality of life, additional medication may be required. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are an important component of arthritis therapy in dogs and cats and are very effective at reducing pain levels. 💊 Some side effects can be noticed however, so careful monitoring is required. We do recommend blood tests every 6 months to ensure they are not having any adverse effects on your pet’s liver and kidneys. Analgesics such as gabapentin can also be added to further improve your pets comfort level. 😌
Although we cannot cure arthritis, with careful management we really can help to improve your pet’s quality of life and ensure they are living as comfortably as possible. If you are worried your pet is experiencing signs of arthritis, please give us a call at the surgery on 07 3288 1822 so we can help.