Looking after our achy arthritic animals

Why is it already feeling like winter, when it’s not even winter yet!
But yes you’re right- it is just around the corner. Which means we need to start thinking about how we are going to help look after our pets who suffer from arthritis.

Don’t get us wrong; we need to be looking after all of our pets no matter their age or species when the cooler weather hits. But it’s even more important to look after our furry friends who battle the daily aches and pains of arthritis.

Firstly, what is Arthritis?
In a nutshell, arthritis is a gradual degenerative joint disease where the smooth cartilage that covers the bones wears down. In young and healthy dogs, this cartilage helps the joints move freely. However, as our pet’s age and time goes by, the bones become exposed and begin to rub together. This is what causes the joints to become stiff and as you can imagine, quite painful. Ouch!

It can be a surprise knowing our fur babies are in pain. Dogs and cats are extremely good at hiding pain and won’t always limp, whine or yelp. Although this mainly targets our mature-age pets, it has been known to be affecting some younger pets too.

What are the symptoms I need to look out for?
Most signs of arthritis are subtle and sneak up on our furry friends and at first can be hard to spot.
Are they:
• Hesitant to jump into the car or onto the bed?
• Getting slower on walks or doesn’t want to walk as far as usual?
• Slipping on floorboards and tiles? Hesitant to walk up stairs?
• Lowering their body slowly to lie down?
• Grumpy when touched? Or less excited to see you and greet you?
• Sleeping or resting more often? Seem lethargic?
• Do they have muscle loss over the spine, hind legs and/or shoulders?

Often we put these signs and changes down to ‘he’s just getting old’, but that isn’t always the case, and are signs they could be in pain from arthritis.

How to help arthritis from home:
Though arthritis isn’t curable, there are some simple things you can do from home to help:

Go easy on the sneaky treats! – Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is extremely important. Overweight pets put tremendous amounts of strain on their joints often flaring up the arthritis.
• Especially in the colder months provide your pet with a warm, comfortable bed with plenty of padding. Raised and heated beds are a great idea!
• Designer coats aren’t just for looks! They help keep your pets all rugged up and warm which can help allow them to get around with more ease.
• Where possible reduce the numbers of stairs your pet needs to climb – use a non slip ramp. I’m sure there is nothing more you hate then walking up stars with sore, stiff joints.
Exercise your pet in small amounts – short gentle walks keep the muscles toned and the joints moving with out too much strain. Try incorporating normal ranges of motion in too!

What can we do for your pet?
If you are at all suspicious your pet may be in pain or have arthritis we strongly recommend a visit with one of our lovely veterinarians.
To hit arthritis on the head, we will come up with a management plan to suit both you and your pooches needs. A well-rounded approach will help your fur baby get the most out of life!
This might include:
Medication – we may prescribe your loved pet with daily anti-inflammatory tablets which can help relieve the pain and inflammation of the joint. We may also prescribe another type of medication known as Pentosan which helps to actively repair and maintain joints. Pentosan is a set of injections given over 4 weeks and effects can last up to a year.
Diet – Feeding a diet high in glucosamine and chondroitin (natural anti-inflammatory and joint protective compounds) can make a HUGE difference to a pet suffering from arthritis! We stock Hills Prescription j/d Diet at the clinic. Also feeding our overweight pets weight loss foods will help because as our pets lose the weight, they reduce the stress put on their sore joints.
Supplements – 4CYTE is a new product which includes the wonderful green lip mussel which has scientifically been proven to have wonderful affects for arthritis and other joint concerns. Joint guard is a powder version of glucosamine and chondroitin which is beneficial too.
Fish oil – it might be stinky stuff but full of amazing joint healing properties. Fish oil contains many omega acids comes in a liquid form, which is a heap easy to use with pets. We stock Paw fish oil at the clinic which is special formulated and flavoured for pets!

We really hope these tips and information help to keep your arthritic pets comfortable over the cooler months! However, if you are worried your pet is suffering from arthritis, please don’t hesitate to call us, or book an appointment online.