When Fido prefers to walk rather than run painful joints may be the culprit. Dogs, cats and other animals can suffer from arthritis just like people and the severity can be just as painful, says Dr. Carol Osborne, a veterinarian in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. The fact is: a joint is a joint, and a bone is a bone, whether it’s on a person or a pet. Dogs and cats get arthritis just like we do because the factors that are responsible are similar in both.
It’s a very common problem in older dogs and cats just as it is in people. Treatment methods are also very similar. Signs pet owners can look for are often subtle initially, and then become more obvious as time passes. Pets may walk very stiffly or in some cases, even limp. Many dogs become reluctant to run, play and climb stairs. Older cats often make mistakes outside of the litter box because it’s too painful for them to climb up into their box. Purchasing litter boxes with lower sides help a great deal.
When owners take their dog out for a walk, their pet might lag behind them because they have painful joints and can’t keep up. All of these are signs that arthritis may be a problem. Treatment for arthritis includes several options. If the arthritis is severe enough, joint replacements – such as hip and knee – can be done surgically, but those don’t occur too often.
The surgical procedures can be very expensive. Most often, a veterinarian will prescribe some medication and place the animal on a limited exercise program.
Traditionally, veterinarians often choose from a myriad of drugs called NSAID’s (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) and prescribe them to treat many forms of arthritis. Common medications include Rimadyl, Deramax and Ectogesic. They work well for many pets but also come with unwanted side effects and risks.
As pets age, the incidence of arthritis increases just as it does in people. The truth is that over 90 percent of dogs at age 2 already have arthritic lesions detectable on x-rays whether or not the pet displays visible signs of pain. Keeping pets at a lean body weight is one thing owners can do to relieve excess stress on their pet’s bones and joints. Excess body weight adds more stress on joints, and increases the risk of arthritis. It also intensifies the pain in pets already suffering from the condition.
Dogs are the most frequent sufferers of arthritis, followed by cats and horses. But any animal can get the disease. Pets that have been diagnosed with arthritis should still receive moderate exercise. Without exercise the arthritic changes will continue to worsen. According to veterinarian, Dr. Carol Osborne, inactivity increases the risk of permanent immobility in dogs and cats by 33 percent.
Moderation is the key. Moderate exercise along with a proper diet, weight maintenance and a natural nutritional vitamin-mineral glucosamine based supplement like PAAWS can do wonders for these pets and often alleviates the need for stronger prescription medications.
Just as with people, pets can enjoy a happy, mobile life for many years with arthritis, but a few lifestyle changes will need to be made along the way.