It’s hard to see our arthritic pets in pain and struggle to perform tasks that were once second nature such as getting into the car. It’s important to know that there are options to improve their quality of life.
The most common form of arthritis is the degenerative form or osteoarthritis and unfortunately it is reported to affect 1 in every 5 adult dogs. Basically the cartilage and fluid that protects the bones within the joint are damaged causing pain and a decreased range of motion. Little spurs of bone can grow causing even more pain.
Management is multifactorial and involves:
1. Weight: If overweight we need to work on a weight loss program to achieve their optimum weight. An easily digestible high quality food should be fed.
2. Exercise: Mild to moderate impact. This really depends on the severity of your pets arthritis- a dog with early disease should get more exercise than one who’s severely affected who may only tolerate 5 minutes of slow walking a day. Non-weight bearing exercise such as swimming is great and hydrotherapy using an underwater treadmill supervised by a veterinary physiotherapist can be an invaluable tool to improve their muscles to support their ailing joints.
3. Complimentary therapies: Acupuncture may help your pets arthritis.
4. Bedding: Well padded and warm to protect their joints
5. Non-slip matts around the home: Don’t allow your mate to skid on floor boards and cause further damage.
6. Ramps: Help reduce the burden of steps by providing gentle ramps. You can also use these to help load your pet into the car.
7. Joint supplements: Glucosamine and chondroitin are readily available and promote healthy cartilage. Omega 3 fatty acids are proven to be an effective anti-inflammatory for the joints- present in flaxseed oil , green lipped mussel and you can buy commercial foods for arthritis that have this already supplemented in them.
8. Pharmaceuticals: Polysulfated glycosaminoglycan injections (called zydax or cartrophen) help protect the cartilage and are very effective in arthritic patients. Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications are also very appropriate when your pet is in pain. Never use over the counter products always use a dog approved product prescribed by your veterinarian.
Osteoarthritis cannot be cured medically and continues to deteriorate with time but it can be managed to ensure you fur kid can live a comfortable and happy life.
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