One of the most common complaints of all ageing animals is the development of arthritis especially in the major joints such as the hips, the knees, the shoulders and the elbows but it can strike anywhere in the animal where there is a joint such as the toes, the ankles, the jaw and even in the spine.
Now most owners are aware of the term “arthritis” and know that the term is associated with a degeneration of the joint and then this degenerate joint starts to cause pain to the animal. BUT most owners are not aware of the actual degenerative process and are not aware of WHY this process occurs.
It certainly is beyond the scope of this short article to describe the process and why animals develop arthritis, but if you are interested please contact our animal hospital and we will send you some information that may assist you understanding the whole process.
But what is important to understand is that arthritis is PAINFUL and certainly will cause a decrease in the use of the damaged joint leading to lameness or a decrease in exercise. It is also important for all owners to be aware that an animal will NOT vocalise (make a noise) when they are in pain especially from arthritis, but they will show the pain by not using the affected joint properly.
So how do you know if your animal is starting to suffer from arthritis? Here are a few signs for dogs and cats that may indicate that your fluffy friend is starting to develop arthritis. Health professionals usually look for at least 2 of the following signs before assuming the problem is associated with arthritis.
- Difficulty jumping onto the couch or into the car
- Showing reluctancy to walk up or down stairs
- Starting to slip on smooth floors
- Obviously lame especially after lying down for a while
- Not wanting to go for long walks or very slow when walking
- Legs become wobbly or trembling especially after standing for a long time
- Restless especially at night or taking a long time to lie down
- Chewing or licking a joint
For cats the signs can be more subtle as the average cat does lie around a lot.
- Struggling to jump up onto chairs, tables etc
- Stiffness after exercising
- Muscle wastage over affected leg (getting thinner)
- Not wanting to move very much
- Joints starting to swell
- Trouble standing up after lying down
- Slow walking
- Not wanting to walk up or down stairs
- Coat becomes unkept and not grooming itself properly
- Starting to not use the litter tray properly – going to the toilet outside the litter tray
In my next article I will discuss what the owner can do to assist their animal with arthritis, but I would like to take this opportunity to again emphasize – arthritis IS painful, and most animals will NOT complain about the pain but each animal will show some signs of the problem if only the owner would look and not expect the animal to groan or whinge.
It is also important for the owner to understand the consequence of the painful joint on the animal’s movement and well-being. There is lots of evidence to show arthritis can lead to an early death in some animals because the pain becomes so great that they either stop eating or going to the toilet properly and even can lead to the animal “just deciding to die”.
Arthritis is treatable and manageable – it just depends on the severity before deciding which action to take to assist each animal to have a healthy and happy life (which all owners want their animal to have).
We recommend a course of injections called CARTROPHEN that assists your animal in making new cartilage and keeping the joint free of pain. If you are interested, then please contact us for more information In the next article (later this month) we will discuss the
different ways you, the owner, can assist your animal with arthritis.
Until next time – keep loving your animals.