- 3 months ago
What to do for dog arthritis
01 Lenno's arthritis
Last month we introduced you to Lenno. He had recently been diagnosed with dry eye and had commenced on some eye medication to help improve his tear production. We are pleased to say that he has responded well to the medication and his eyes are improving. He will need regular tear tests and ongoing medication but things are looking good (pardon the pun).
In this article we'd like to discuss Lenno's arthritis. He suffers from osteoarthritis of the hip as he has mild hip joint deformity. The ball of his hip joint doesn't sit in the socket very well allowing extra mobility and wear and tear of the joint.
This is a mild form of hip dysplasia. It is genetic and can affect certain breeds of dogs (mostly large breed dogs) but there are also environmental factors involved including diet, obesity and exercise.
Diagnosis was made with a thorough veterinary examination and was confirmed with x-rays.
Lenno's arthritis is managed with monthly arthritis injections and strict weight management. Lenno loves food so this might sound like a challenge but thankfully it's not so bad as he is on a prescription diet to keep his weight in a healthy range avoiding extra stress on his joints. It also helps to preserve joint cartilage and slow the progression of his arthritis.
If you would like more information about arthritis and the treatments available we encourage you to read on as we have plenty of 'gems' to share!
02 The subtle signs of arthritis
Our pets are more likely to feel the effects of arthritis during the colder weather so now is the best time for an arthritis check with us. Most of the signs of arthritis are subtle and you may not even realise your pet is in pain.
Arthritis is caused by the loss of the smooth cartilage that covers the bones at the end of a joint. This cartilage usually helps joints move freely and comfortably but over time, the ends of the bones become exposed and rub together.
Your pet may not necessarily have a limp and won't yelp or cry out in pain. Watch out for the more subtle signs:
- Trouble jumping up on to furniture or in to the boot of the car
- Stiff and sore especially in the morning or after lying down
- Sleeping more and lying around for longer periods of time
- Changes in behaviour such as being more grumpy than usual
- Muscle loss along the spine and down the legs
- Hesitant to jump down from your lap or from furniture
- Land in a heap when jumping down
- Reluctant to climb
- Reduced grooming leading to a poorly kept coat and matted fur
Don’t be tempted to put these changes down to 'just getting old' as your pet may be in significant pain. Arrange a check up with your vet to examine your pet thoroughly.
03 The many ways we can treat arthritis
If your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis don't despair! There are multiple ways we can treat the disease and help your pet live a longer and more comfortable life.
They key to managing the disease is a multi-targeted approach. If we use a combination of treatments it can help reduce the need for large amounts of medication and lessen the potential side effects of any one treatment.
Some of the treatments might include:
1. Disease modifying drugs
Given as a regular injection, these help to relieve pain and help to preserve joint cartilage. They can also improve the joint fluid meaning the joints are better lubricated and more comfortable when they move. They can be given as weekly, monthly or tri-monthly injections.
2. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These help to reduce pain and inflammation. They can be given short term but may be needed for the rest of your pet’s life (as long as we monitor your pet’s kidney and liver function). They can be given in conjunction with other pain reducing drugs. Never give human pain relief medications to your pet.
3. Diets formulated for joint health
A diet high in essential fatty acids (with added nutriceuticals as discussed below) may help reduce inflammation, decrease pain and improve your pet’s mobility. Prescription joint diets can also help keep your pet in a healthy weight range meaning there is less weight on your pet's joints. Ask us about the specific prescription diets we have available for joint health.
Fish oil and green lipped mussel contain high levels of Omega-3 and may help reduce inflammation and pain. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may improve joint function and slow down the progression of arthritis. Human supplements are not appropriate for our pets so it is best to ask us for the best nutriceutical for your pet.
If your pet has arthritis, your vet can come up with a treatment plan and work with you to ensure your pet lives a happy and comfortable life. If you are worried about your pet you should always phone your vet for advice.
04 How to make your home arthritis friendly
To help your arthritic pet live a comfortable life there are a few things you can do at home:
Our number one tip is to keep your pet’s weight in a healthy range to reduce the load on the joint.
If your pet is carrying even just 10% more bodyweight than is ideal they can really suffer, as can their joints. Ask us for the best diet recommendation for your pet.
Other things you can do at home:
- Provide a dry and comfortable bed with plenty of padding
- Heated beds are a good idea for winter
- Use a portable ramp to help your dog get in and out of the car
- Provide an additional piece of furniture so your cat doesn't have to jump so high to reach his favourite spot
- Continue to exercise your pet in moderation; gentle daily walks for dogs help keep the joints moving and muscles active
When it comes to arthritis and your pet, we are always here to answer your questions to help keep your pet happy and comfortable, and most importantly, pain free.
05 Cat hits dog's turbo button
Check out this hilarious video of a cat 'hitting a dog's turbo button'. It's safe to say that this dog doesn't have any mobility issues! We especially love the cat's reaction...