What is Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a very common problem in cats & dogs. It has been estimated that over 80% of dogs over the age of 8 have arthritis. The condition causes long term degeneration of joints and involves many tissues including: the ligaments & tendons, joint capsule, cartilage (the joint surface) & the bone under the cartilage.
Most common causes of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis in dogs usually has a specific underlying cause and is therefore often seen earlier in life. Underlying causes can include developmental conditions such as hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament rupture and injuries to the joint. Cats are very commonly affected and this may be seen at a young age.
Signs of Arthritis
There are many different signs of arthritis however as it is a chronic disease (gets worse over a long period of time), they are often very hard to spot. There are some obvious signs but, most are very subtle and harder to spot. Try our arthritis test bellow to see if your pet may be showing signs of arthritis.
Obvious signs of arthritis
- Pain (especially after exercising)
- Tripping of legs
Subtle signs of arthritis
- Slowing down
- licking their joints
- Change in gait (walking pattern)
- Decreased exercise levels
- Sleeping more
- Change in temperament
- in ability to climb stairs or climb on bed
If you suspect your pet may be suffering from arthritis or joint pain the first step is a through physical exam by your vet. They can identify any painful areas and check for other conditions.
Further diagnostics: Your vet may recommend X-rays to confirm that the pain is due to arthritis and not another condition, also X-rays can be used to grade the severity of arthritis. Further advanced imaging e.g. CT or MRI may sometimes be advised. A blood and urine sample will be needed if your pet is to start on medication.
What Treatments are Available for Osteoarthritis?
Unfortunately there is no cure for osteoarthritis. Treatment aims to allow pets to use the affected joint or joints without pain. There is no single approach to treatment that is successful in every case, and most dogs and cats need a multi-modal approach, including:
- Pain relief; osteoarthritis can be painful, and so in some animals long term medication is needed. Although long term medication can have a risk of side effects, this risk must be balanced against pain from the osteoarthritis if the medication is not given.
- Exercise; whilst exercise can cause discomfort in the short term, exercise is important to keep pets fit and healthy. There is no golden rule as to how much exercise an animal with osteoarthritis can have, as all patients are different; instead, exercise levels need to be tailored to the individual animal.
- Weight control; pets that are an ideal weight have fewer painful episodes and slower progression of osteoarthritis than overweight animals
- Food supplements; glucosamine, chondroitin and green lipped muscle extract have been proposed to help treat osteoarthritis. While the effect may not be dramatic small improvements may be seen
- Diet; diets containing omega-3-fatty acids may have a natural anti-inflammatory action which may help to relieve discomfort associated with osteoarthritis
- Therapy; physiotherapy and hydrotherapy are important in the treatment of osteoarthritis. They can be used to build muscle, improve joint use, and reduce muscle stiffness as well as being good exercise. These therapies need to be discussed carefully with your Vet initially, to avoid making painful joints worse.
Unfortunately we do not offer arthritis clinics at our practice however, one of our nurses runs his own arthritis clinics 'J.A.K Pet Arthritis Therapy'.
'Unlike most vets I perform these clinics in your own home rather than in a strange environment. The benefits of this include:
- Your pet will be more relaxed and more likely to show their normal behaviours. When travelling to the vets they hide these behaviours where they are not relaxed.
- Fully examine them whilst they are in a calm, relaxed environment & without other strange smells.
- I can perform a full home check as well (looking for hazards that could cause their joints and arthritis to be worse)
After I have performed a full examination we can look at implementing a plan to help manage their arthritis and delay the progression. This plan may include;
- Weight loss (if needed)
- Therapies to help their joints
- Muscle strengthening exercises (if needed)
- home adjustments
After the first consult I will be available to talk to and will perform re-checks to monitor how the arthritis is progressing and see if any adaptions are needed to the plan.
Contact Jack on 07947517735, or visit J.A.K Pet Arthritis Therapy on facebook.