Described as degenerative joint disease, arthritis is a very common occurrence in many cats and dogs. With the winter months upon us, you may start to notice some telltale signs that your furry friend may be struggling with arthritis.
As many as 25% of dogs will experience arthritis in their lifetime, it is simply that common. While dogs are often more easily diagnosed with visible signs like lameness being more prominent, cats are likely to experience similar numbers, if not more. According to one study, osteoarthritis could be seen radiographically in 90% of cats older than 12 years old. Arthritis can cause pain and discomfort for your pet, and often in the cooler months, your pet will feel this even more acutely.
How do I know if my pet has arthritis?
The best way to diagnose arthritis is by contacting your local vet. Chances are that you will start to notice some lameness and discomfort in your pet, as well as a slow down in movement and activity in general. Dogs may show more noticeable signs of arthritis with obvious lameness, stiffness and discomfort. Cats are frequently more difficult to diagnose as their symptoms will often be behavioural. Irritation and decreased grooming are often signs of discomfort.
When you bring your pet to the vet, there are a variety of ways to diagnose arthritis. Physical examinations, diagnostic imaging, joint taps and other tests can be carried out to reach a diagnosis. These tests provide a range of information from visual review to scans, which will allow your vet to see excess fluid, bony spurs or signs of any underlying disorders.
How do we treat arthritis in cats and dogs?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis as it is ultimately a degenerative disease. However, it is certainly possible to ensure your pet gets a significantly better quality of life with as little discomfort as possible.
The ultimate goal is to lessen your pet’s suffering, prevent the joint from deteriorating further, and restore its functionality. Various treatments are frequently required to get rid of pain, stiffness, and discomfort.
- Managing your pet’s weight is important. Any excess pressure on joints will impact the joints and muscles of your pet in a negative way. If your pet is currently overweight, it is likely that you will need to ensure that excess weight is lost.
- Make sure your pet gets to enjoy some low-impact exercise like walking or swimming to help ease any stiffness in their muscles and joints.
- Joint supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and glucoasmine will have some anti-inflammatory properties in addition to supporting the cartilage. At Ascot Vet, we have joint supplements specifically designed for dogs and cats to help bring comfort to your pet.
Your vet may prescribe medications to help that are either oral or injectable. This will help ease the pain and help with regaining some movement. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) are common treatments for animals, as well as Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG).
A new Monoconal Antibody Therapy has recently been released for the long term treatment of arthritis in cats and dogs, which studies have shown is safer for kidney health.
If your pet does not respond to other treatments, your vet may consider surgical intervention. In some instances, surgery may be used to fix an underlying condition that is causing arthritis like cranial cruciate ligament rupture or elbow dysplasia, for example. Reconstructive procedures can sometimes be used to eliminate joint instability and correct anatomical defects as well.
If you think your precious pet could use some help with their arthritis this winter, please give us a call so we can discuss your options further.
With a combination of careful monitoring and working alongside your vet to establish the right treatment for your beloved pet, most dogs and cats can enjoy a much better quality of life.