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We all age and with that our body ages. If your pet no longer jumps up like they used to there may be a good reason. Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative joint disease that makes movement difficult and painful and can affect all ages of pets. All joints can be affected from hips and elbows to the more overlooked joints like between the vertebrae of the spine. There is no cure for osteoarthritis. However, if it is treated promptly, there is a great deal that you and your veterinarian can do to decrease your pets discomfort and increase their mobility.
The ability of owners to recognise the signs of arthritis in their pets is limited by their understanding of how pets display their aches and pains. See below for some common signs of arthritis.
If you notice any of the signs above, don't just think that your pet is "slowing down with age". Bring them in to see one of our vets, the faster arthritis is first diagnosed and treated, the better your pets quality of life will be.
1. This is the head of the femur bone. Take note of the normal, well-rounded shape
2. This is the neck of the femur
3. Take note of the smooth edges
4. The head of the femur rough
5. The edges are also now rough
6. It now does not cover the head of the femur properly
There are many causes such as an injury that damages the joint or developmental defects that alter the shape or stability of a joint. Obesity in your pet can be a common problem as it puts an excessive load on the joints and simply some breeds are just more prone to osteoarthritis than others.
Arthritis is commonly graded as minor, moderate or severe.
- Arthritis that is minor is often managed with in food additives called nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals such as Boma Zeal Cat Pep or Boma Zeal Mobilize are made up of natural agents such as deer velvet, green mussel extract and enzogenol (tree barks). There are also prescription foods that are specific for arthritis such as Hill Science Diet Joint Diet (j/d). The diet has products added such chondroitin and glucosamine.
- Moderate to severe arthritis causes obvious and permanent swelling of the joints and only anti-inflammatory medication can provide sufficient pain relief. Response to anti-inflammatory medications are rapid and with the appropriate treatment, within days your pet can be lively and considerably more comfortable.
Osteoarthritis may progress very slowly (over several years) or very quickly (you might notice a major change in just a few weeks or months). It all depends on your pet's age, his or her activity level, the joints involved and the underlying cause. Some pets pain and loss of mobility can be kept to a minimum for long periods of time with a simple regimen of weight control, moderate regular exercise and the occasional use of anti-inflammatory drugs. For others, severe damage to the joints may occur rapidly and require long-term medication and other therapy. In either case, our vets can determine the best course of treatment for your pet's particular condition.