Sliding in here right at the end of the month, May has been a month focused on addressing the pain of arthritis. Many of us are familiar with the changes that the development of arthritis brings- it’s a pain in the neck! And maybe some of us have not yet considered that this pain can also be felt by our furry friends. In this blog, I’ll address a few common examples in both dogs and cats. Then we’ll discuss the measures that we can take to alleviate pain and discomfort.
There are several common orthopedic disorders that can affect canines, some more common in larger breeds and others affecting the smaller breeds. Some of you may be familiar with a disease known as Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD). It is characterized by an abnormal formation of the hip joint- the ball does not fit perfectly into the socket. We’ll sometimes note pain and lameness when dogs are young and growing, but resolves with time. Eventually with age, secondary arthritis forms due to the fact that the joint has been imperfect during the course of development. This disease is much more common in large breed dogs. Smaller breeds tend to be more affected by a disease called Medial Patellar Luxation (MPL), where there is laxity of the knee cap and abnormal shifting out of place. Secondary arthritis forms with long term abnormal motion of the knee cap.
For our feline friends, arthritis tends to form more commonly in the lower spine and hips, also elbows and knees can be greatly affected. This tends to occur with age in cats, and is made worse by an overweight body condition in some. Signs of arthritis tend to be more subtle in cats than in dogs, and tends to be a more slowly progressive disease. Although less common in cats, arthritic changes in cats can lead to drastic changes in your cat’s life. Anywhere from overall decreased energy level to inappropriate urination and defecation outside of the litter box. Most cats also rely on their ability to easily jump and climb, which they may not be able to do well with arthritic pain.
So what can we do to change this. As I always say, it’s never too soon to consider starting joint supplements. It’s an easy, daily supplement that can be used to slow the progression of arthritis and keep the joints healthy. Another great tool is diet. Prescription diets for both weight loss (if necessary) and joint health are also available for both dogs and cats. Laser therapy is also used to treat arthritis. The title of this article points to the fact that arthritis is a type of inflammation, and laser therapy aims to decrease inflammation deep in the tissue and joints. Last, but not least, medication is sometimes necessary to help create a comfort level that is optimum for your pet. There are so many options, some that may work better for your pet than others, so this option warrants a discussion with your vet!
My hope is that this blog has been very informative to all of the readers, and that you will be on the lookout for signs of arthritic changes in your pets! See you in June for another new blog!
Dr. Molly Jette