Arthritis Care – Detecting and Managing this Common Problem.
Arthritis is a condition that many pets develop during their lifetime, leading to stiffness, pain and a reduction in the range of movement our pets have. It is often thought that arthritis only occurs in old animals, however we frequently see it in younger animals, including those with previous injuries or those who had dysplasia of the joints (such as hip dysplasia in some breeds of dog). In dogs, these symptoms can be quite readily noticed, however in other pets, such as cats and rabbits, the signs may not be so easy to spot, meaning our pets may be struggling without us realising it.
The signs noticed in dogs may include stiffness, pain, unwillingness/inability to move as well as previously, audible creaking of joints and often most notably, stiffness on rising. Cats however, are far less likely to display these symptoms, instead showing a reluctance to jump as frequently or as high as they ised to and changes in temperament, including appearing more grumpy. Rabbits may carry a limb, be reluctant to move as freely as previously and perhaps stop eating their caecotrophs (soft faeces) or grooming as well or frequently as they did.
If we are aware that an animal is predisposed to developing arthritis, we can consider options such as joint supplements. All supplements are not made equal, varying in labelled and unlabelled contents – a study carried out a few years ago showed that several supplements did not contain the ingredients in the quantities they listed. For more information about joint supplements, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Once the disease process begins, we can consider many options, from injections designed to stabilise the composition of the joints to anti-inflammatory/pain relieving medications. In severe cases, surgery may even be suggested, but this is uncommon. Alongside these medications, we often recommend complementary treatments such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy or physiotherapy. A new medication has just been released for dogs which acts solely on the pathways involved in arthritic pain and therefore should reduce potential effects of medicating for arthritis. If you would like to know more about this new medication, please speak to a member of staff.
Every animal is different, so for this reason we advise you make an appointment to discuss the options available for your pet, so our team of vets and nurses can help you make an informed decision about the best way to manage your pet’s arthritis.