Before we take steps to manage arthritis, we have to be able to recognize arthritis pain. Both dogs and cats can show pain in several different ways. You will likely be the first one to notice these often subtle changes.
IF ONLY THEY COULD TALK
Dogs and cats may be hesitant to jump onto the furniture, into the car, or to climb stairs. They may intentionally avoid hard wood or tile floors. On more painful days, they may be less active in general or even eat less.
Dogs may change the way they posture to go to the bathroom or even fall over when trying to posture. Cats may struggle to get all the way into their normal litterbox and may even stop using the litterbox.
Both dogs and cats can change the way they move their legs and body when they walk in an effort to avoid discomfort. This change in movement can cause certain muscles to not be used and cause those muscles to shrink or waste away.
ARTHRITIS CANNOT BE CURED
Arthritis cannot be cured. The objective is to manage the discomfort as best as possible so that they can live their longest, happiest life. It is prudent to confirm the presence of arthritis changes on radiographs to rule out more serious conditions, like bone tumors. Keep in mind, radiographic changes do tend to lag behind the outward signs we are seeing with the pet.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
Arthritis benefits from a:
- Healthy body weight
- Good muscle mass
- A balanced diet
- There are several specific diets that can also benefit joint health. There are prescription diets like Hill’s Science Diet Mobility (for dogs and cats) or Royal Canin J/D. There is an over the counter Purina Pro Plan Sport 30:20 blend diet that is also available for pro-active or mild cases.
- Oral supplements like Fish Oil (Omega Fatty Acids) and Osteo (joint supplement) are also available. Together they both have components that have been proven to help reduce mild inflammation, mild discomfort, and help lubricate the joints. Fish oil can be a high quality, over the counter human, capsule or we have a liquid, pet version that you pump over the food.
- Adequan injections are another option for managing arthritis. It is an injectable cartilage protectant for joint health and repair. The injections are given under the skin and can be given here in the clinic or at home. In the beginning the injections are given twice weekly for 4 weeks and then every 2-4 weeks for maintenance.
- Depending on their level of discomfort we could also start a long term, prescription anti-inflammatory. If using a medication long term, we recommend regular bloodwork every 6 months. There is not a safe, over the counter pain medication for dogs or cats.
Schedule your appointment today for us to evaluate your pet and help you determine the best therapies for your pet’s arthritis pain.