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September 21, 2022
You might notice your dog or cat walking stiffly as they age. Pet arthritis can make it challenging for your furry friend to move about, sit, and stand after lying down for a while. You can do things to help reduce pain and make it a bit easier for your pet to move.
Osteoarthritis is most common in older pets since it's a degenerative disease but can occur at any age. You might notice your pet moving differently, limping, or even experiencing behavioral changes. A vet can diagnose the condition and may suggest medication, rehabilitation, or supplements to help manage your pet's arthritis.
Understanding osteoarthritis and the signs to look for can help you get your pet the best treatment. The sooner you act, the quicker your dog or cat can get pain relief and live a more comfortable life.
One of the most common forms of arthritis in pets is osteoarthritis, when the cartilage around joints begins to deteriorate. This degenerative disease is most apparent in older dogs and cats but can appear at any age.
Certain factors that can increase your pet’s arthritis risk are old age, obesity, and pre-existing health conditions, including elbow or hip dysplasia. It’s also possible for larger dogs to have an increased risk of developing the disease and certain cat breeds, including Persians and Himalayans.
At first, you might not suspect anything is amiss with your pet, especially if they tend to be good at hiding pain. Also, if your furry friend is getting up in years, it’s common to attribute certain behaviors to merely slowing down with old age.
But, pay close attention to your pet after they get up first thing in the morning or after lying down for an extended period. You might also notice arthritis symptoms more readily in colder weather.
Here are some common signs indicating your pet is dealing with arthritis.
Schedule a vet visit if you notice your dog or cat slowing down and facing mobility challenges. Although arthritis might be an expected part of your pet’s aging process, it doesn’t mean they have to live in pain or discomfort. Likewise, your vet holds the key to suitable treatment if your pet is still young and experiencing arthritis due to other factors.
Your vet will conduct a physical exam and may also order x-rays. X-rays will rule out other potential causes of your pet’s pain and behavior.
If your vet diagnoses your pet with arthritis, they will offer several treatment options depending on the severity of your pet’s condition. They will also factor in any special situations, like your budget and your pet’s age and health history.
Some recommendations to treat your pet’s arthritis are:
There’s no cure for osteoarthritis, so managing your pet's pain is the best course of action. To do this, the go-to is often Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), which can reduce inflammation and joint pain. Make sure to give your pet medications only prescribed by your vet. Giving your dog or cat over-the-counter human NSAIDs is dangerous and can have severe consequences.
Your vet might recommend a change in diet that increases fatty acids to help with joint health. Certain supplements can also help support healthy joints. Check with your vet before making any changes, especially if your pet is on other medication.
Low-impact exercise can help your pet build up the muscles around their joints. It’s also helpful for preventing obesity or excess weight that can put undue pressure on your pet’s joints. You can talk with your vet about rehabilitation services like massage, laser therapy, and other treatments that can help ease your pet’s pain.
Your vet might recommend surgery to remove damaged tissue in more severe cases. Another option would be joint replacement surgery, which your vet would be more likely to suggest if your pet is younger.
Talking with your vet about your pet’s arthritis is your first step in helping your fur baby find relief. But there are also things you can do at home to improve your pal’s quality of life.
You can do a lot to battle pet arthritis and increase your pet’s comfort. Knowing what to do is half the battle. For more helpful tips, check out our blog to find all sorts of resources and valuable info that can guide you in doing what’s best for your furry family members.
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