People with arthritis will tell you that the cold weather makes their joints ache worse. The same can be true for your pets!
Arthritis is a common known problem of the joints. Most people know that it leads to pain and decreased mobility. To most, arthritis is considered a sign of old age. However, that is not always true. Arthritis can be caused by injury, infection, or the body itself (immune system, developmental problems).
Arthritis is diagnosed based on the owner’s observations at home, a complete physical exam with your veterinarian, and possibly x-rays. When people think of arthritis in pets, most think of dogs, but cats can and do get arthritis as well. Common areas for arthritis in pets include knees, hips, elbows, carpus (wrist) and along the spine.
Things to watch for at home:
- trouble standing up (especially after laying down for awhile)
- trouble laying down and getting comfortable
- reluctant to go up or down steps
- reluctant to jump up or onto things (especially evident with cats)
- slower on walks or seems to want to stop sooner than usual
- doesn’t want to play as often or for as long as usual
- limping or changes in gait
- shifts weight to relieve painful joints (may notice pet standing a little different)
- decreased appetite (or reluctant to lower head to the bowl)
If you suspect your pet has arthritis, contact your veterinarian. DO NOT GIVE ANY HUMAN MEDICATIONS TO YOUR PET! Human NSAID’s such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Motrin, etc are all toxic to pets. Even aspirin can cause problems such as increased bleeding or stomach ulcers. Veterinarians have safe, approved medications to help relieve your pet’s pain.
Your veterinarian may recommend a supplement containing glucosamine & chondroitin to help support joint health. Suburban Animal Clinic carries SynoviG4 Soft Chews for dogs that contain glucosamine, chondroitin, and a variety of antioxidants to promote joint health. We also carry Cosequin for our feline friends.
Sometimes a supplement alone and bring your pet relief. Other times, or for flare-ups, as is common in cold weather, an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) such as Rimadyl (dogs) or Metacam (dogs & cats) is necessary. If necessary, we can also add in a pain medication for severe pain.
Suburban Animal Clinic also offers a variety of drug-free therapies for pets in pain:
Companion Animal Laser Therapy is a Class IV Deep Tissue Laser. The laser emits a red light similar to a laser pointer, however is much stronger. The beam of laser light penetrates the tissues to help reduce pain and inflammation. Pets do not feel the laser and most remain relaxed during the procedure. Radiographs are often taken prior to beginning therapy to help pinpoint the areas where the laser is needed. It usually takes a couple sessions before you see a difference in your pet. Contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation.
Dr. Beth Stafford became certified in Animal Acupuncture in 2012. Acupuncture is a drug-free and virtually painless method to help patients with different ailments, even arthritis. Strategically placed acupuncture needles stimulate various points which can lead to a change in pain perception. Contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation.
Our own registered veterinary technician, Anne Pelleriti, is a certified canine massage therapist. Various massage techniques can help relax muscles and increase blood flow, which can decrease pain and increase range of motion. Anne can be contacted at Suburban for more information or to schedule a consultation.
Also available is extensive physical therapy with specialists at MedVet. A variety of therapies may be used including aquatherapy, heat therapy, and more. If you are interested in a referral to MedVet, please let us know.
Arthritis affects many aging pets, and should not be thought of as ‘just one of those aging changes’ then dismissed. A variety of medications and therapies are available to help arthritic pets feel better and have a better quality of life.
Suburban Animal Clinic is located in