At PetVax Complete Care Centers in Memphis, Bartlett, and Cordova, our veterinarians can diagnose and provide treatment options for pet arthritis. Here are some frequently asked questions on arthritis in your pet.
What is arthritis?
Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease, is a progressive condition that causes inflammation in the joints. The condition develops because of a breakdown in cartilage, which acts as a cushion in our joints. Due to age, stress, injury or disease, the cartilage in the joints can breakdown which leads to increased pain, loss of range of motion, and inflammation.
Just like humans, pets can develop arthritis. In fact, this is a very common condition seen by our veterinarians. While any joint in your pet’s body can develop arthritis, it commonly occurs in the limbs and hips.
Which pets are at higher risk for developing arthritis?
While any pet can develop arthritis as they age, there are some factors that play into whether or not your dog or cat will incur this condition. These include:
- Age. Typically middle-aged to senior pets are diagnosed with arthritis.
- Breed. Large and giant-breed dogs have a higher chance of developing arthritis, especially Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds
- Obesity. Pets that are overweight have a greater chance of arthritis due to the increased stress placed on their joints.
- Injuries or illnesses. Fractures, sprains, and even some illnesses like Lyme Disease can increase the likelihood that your pet will develop arthritis.
- Repetitive stress from activities. Dogs who engage in agility, dock-diving, and flyball have a tendency to develop arthritis due to the amount of stress these activities put on their joints.
What are the symptoms of arthritis in pets?
Diagnosing arthritis in pets is sometimes more difficult than it would seem. Animals can be very stoic when it comes to pain, and can oftentimes push through, so you may not even know that your pet is suffering from arthritis. In fact, your pet may not show any signs in the early stages of the disease. This is why it’s important to schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian. Here are some of the symptoms that you should be aware of:
- Stiffness or lameness.
- Difficulty getting up from a sitting or lying position.
- Reluctance to engage in physical activity, like running and playing fetch.
- Weight gain.
- Pain when you pet or touch their joints.
- Change in behavior and increased irritability.
What are the treatment options for arthritis in pets?
While arthritis is a progressive disease in pets with no known cure, there are treatment options focused on reducing the impact of symptoms like decreasing pain and inflammation to improve quality of life. Lifestyle changes, like managing your pet’s weight, making sure they get exercise and providing them with a soft and supportive cushioned sleeping bed will help your pet feel better.
Joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin improve function, reduce inflammation, and provides more cushioning for the joint by increasing water retention in the cartilage. For pain control, your veterinarian may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which also helps in reducing inflammation. However, you need to be cautious with NSAIDs because they often have negative side effects in the liver or kidney function from long-term use. This is why it’s important that you speak with your veterinarian about the pros and cons of NSAID therapy for your pet’s arthritis.
Where can I find more information?
As always, the best place to get information about pet arthritis is from your veterinarian. Only a licensed vet can diagnose arthritis, after providing a thorough physical exam that will include checking your pet’s joints for pain and range of motion and may also include an x-ray to see how far damaged the joints are. With arthritis, the earlier it’s caught and interventions can start being made, the more comfortable and the better quality of life your pet will have.
Call PetVax Complete Care Centers Today!
If you have questions or concerns about arthritis and your pet, and live in the Memphis, Cordova, and Bartlett areas, call 901-401-6230 to schedule an exam for with one of our veterinarians at PetVax Complete Care Centers.