Arthritis is a degenerative disease of joints that usually results from chronic wear and tear. Arthritis is the number one cause of chronic pain in dogs and cats.
A few questions you might think about if you have an older dog:
- Is your pet having difficulty getting up and down stairs or in and out of the car?
- Is he/she stiff when getting up after lying down?
- Is your pet more irritable than usual or restless when sleeping?
If you have a cat:
- Is he/she reluctant to jump up on to furniture?
- Does your cat avoid being picked up?
- Has there been a change in response to grooming?
These are all potential signs of arthritis.
FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE
- Weight Management - nothing earth-shattering here; keeping your pet’s body weight lean alleviates excess pressure on their joints.
- Routine Controlled Exercise - this helps maintain as much muscle mass to help support the joints. Swimming is an excellent low impact exercise.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate - cartilage components harvested from sea mollusks provide basic building blocks necessary to repair damaged cartilage. Expect 1-2 months before noticeable improvement.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids - typically from fish oils; these have great anti-inflammatory properties. Diets that contain Omega 3’s tend to be more effective than oral supplements. A good example of a diet rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acid is the J/D diet from Hills.
THE NEXT STEP (more advanced arthritis):
- Cartrophen Injections - typically this is a series of 4 subcutaneous injections given at weekly intervals. Cartrophen is a drug in its own class (disease modifying osteoarthritis drug). It is an injectable source of the cartilage component polysulfated glycosamino glycan (PSGAG). Not only do PSGAGs provide a building block for cartilage they also inhibit harmful enzymes involving joint cartilage, stimulate cartilage repair, and increase joint lubrication.
- NSAIDS - included in this group are Metacam, Rimadyl, Deramaxx. They act by suppressing inflammatory biochemicals that lead to pain and also cartilage damage. NSAIDs are not without potential side effects but risk versus benefits will be discussed with you if they are a consideration in improving your pet’s quality of life. DO NOT USE HUMAN NSAIDS ON PETS
- Analgesics - other analgesics that are strictly analgesics and do not modify inflammation in the joint include Tramadol and Gabapentin.
- Acupuncture, Chiropractic Adjustments, Message and Physiotherapy - can also be helpful