25 May The symptoms and treatment of feline & canine arthritis
Knowing the symptoms of arthritis in cats and dogs is vital if you want to determine whether your pets are experiencing any discomfort and helping them to stay comfortable into old age. At West Acres Animal Hospital we believe prevention is better than cure, so we’ve put together a handy reference sheet for the diagnosis and treatment of feline and canine arthritis.
What exactly is arthritis?
Arthritis is a blanket term that is used to refer to diseases characterised by joint inflammation. In practice, the term is used to describe over 200 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joints, and other connective tissue. The most common kinds of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
How is arthritis diagnosed?
Arthritis is often seen in middle-aged to older pets. Even younger dogs and cats, under the right circumstances, can suffer from arthritic changes. The disease causes painful changes within the affected joints. This pain is responsible for many of the signs associated with arthritis, which includes:
- Limping. If your dog or cat favours certain legs of seem ‘stiff’ when they first get up, it could be a sign of arthritis.
- Moving with difficulty. Dogs that are reluctant to jump into cars or run up stairs (if this was normal behaviour for them before) could be experiencing joint pain. Likewise cats that stop jumping onto countertops or other raised areas.
- A hunched back. Arthritis can also affect regions of the spine, resulting in a sore neck and abnormal posture.
- Abnormal tiredness. If your pet is spending more time sleeping and/or resting than usual or showing general signs of malaise it is worth discussing with your vet.
- Irritability. If your pet becomes abnormally aggressive when you pet or handle them it could point towards pain.
- Licking, chewing or biting. If your pet starts biting, chewing or licking an area of their bodies excessively to the point of hair loss and inflammation you need to take them in for a consultation.
These are just a few of the symptoms associated with feline and canine arthritis. It is a good rule of thumb to keep an eye out for any unusual behaviour. After all, you know your pet best and will be able to tell when something is wrong.
What are the treatment options?
Treatment options include:
- Pain-relief medications such as Petcam, Rimadyl, Previcox, Tramadol and Gabapentin.
- Nutriceutical supplements, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, Omega 3, Pentosan Polysulphate, Curcumin. These come in different formulations – chewable tablets, powders, injections or specially formulated foods.
- Alternative therapies like acupuncture, massage, hydrotherapy, laser therapy, rehabilitation and exercise.
It is also recommended that pets that suffer from arthritis are kept lean by regulating their diet and encouraging gentle exercise. Allowing your pet to become overweight places extra strain on their painful joints and fat cells also secrete hormones that contribute to the pain.
Would you like to know more about maladies that might affect your pet as they age? Get in touch with the expert team at West Acres Animal Hospital and keep an eye on our blog for more helpful information regarding proper pet- and animal care.