With October recognising National Arthritis Week for people, we thought it would be a great opportunity to raise awareness about the condition in pets. Canine Arthritis Management state that 1 in 5 dogs have osteoarthritis, and studies undertaken by the International Society of Feline Medicine show that the condition is also very common in cats. Prevalence increases with age so as your cat or dog enters their more senior years, it’s increasingly likely they will experience this painful degenerative joint disease.
Normally, our joints are cushioned and kept mobile and pain-free by the surrounding cartilage and lubricating joint fluid. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes damaged through wear and tear, the quality of the lubricating fluid deteriorates and our joints are progressively less well protected and therefore become increasingly damaged and inflamed. Osteoarthritis is no different in our pets.
Pets can be brilliant at hiding pain and discomfort. Common signs that dogs may be suffering include finding it hard to get comfortable, pacing at night, sleeping more, a change in temperament, licking joints, lameness and weak back legs or even trouble toileting. In cats, their mobility and activity reduces, there may be changes in their grooming habits, they struggle to retract their claws or get overgrown claws, their temperament can change and they may choose to spend more time alone.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? If so, your pet could be suffering from osteoarthritis.
Whilst there is no cure for arthritis, there are lots of ways we can help manage the condition. Anti-inflammatory medication and joint supplements prove beneficial to many arthritis-sufferers. Monitoring weight is important to ensure your pet is not putting unnecessary excess pressure on their joints, and it’s important to make sure your pet’s exercise regime is adapted – regular, shorter walks for dogs are much more pleasurable! There are complementary therapies too that are really effective at managing pain. At 387 Vets, we’ve been delighted with the results of our laser therapy service (see case studies on our website), and we run free pain management clinics to teach you simple massage and physiotherapy techniques you can carry out at home.
If you suspect your pet may be suffering from arthritis, please do get in touch. There is lots we can do together to help improve your pet’s enjoyment of life!