Arthritis means inflammation of the joint.
The joint of an animal occurs where two bones meet to allow movement. The joint has cartilage on the end of both bones, the area is bathed in an oil called joint fluid that lubricates the area to minimize any friction and also the joint fluid allows nutrients to flow from the surrounding blood supply to the cartilage. The same joint fluid allows by-products to leave the joint and enter the blood supply. The whole area is encapsulated with a joint capsule which produces the joint oil as well as hold the structure together and keep the oil in place.
When the animal has arthritis this means the joint is inflamed, the area is swollen and the joint capsule is stretched so badly that it is pulling on the bone where it attaches. There is no feeling in the cartilage – only pain occurs when the bone is involved. This part is very important because the animal will not show signs of pain until the joint is severly swollen or the cartilage has worn away to expose the underlying bone.
Arthritis can be divided in totwo general types – degenerative and inflammatory.
DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS (ALSO CALLED OSTEOARTHRITIS)
This results from destruction of cartilage and exposure of the underlying bone. The cartilage destruction can result from normal stress on an abnormal joint (example is hip dysplasia or abnormal stress on a normal joint (such as broken ligament in a knee or overstretching of joints with strenuous exercise).
Examples of osteoarthritis that can be fixed with surgery is hip dysplasia, luxation of kneecaps, ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments.
The signs of the arthritis may not manifest until the dog has had years of abnormal stress – it only starts to show problems when the cartilage is so damaged that the bone is exposed or when the joint is so swollen that the joint capsule pulls on the bone attachments.
This is caused by the joint (or joints) becoming inflamed usually from an infection or immune-mediated disease (rheumatoid arthritis). Usually the animal itself is usually sick or has an over all stiffness.
SIGNS OF ARTHRITIS
- Reluctance to walk, jump, climb stairs
- Limping especially when the animal first gets up from lying down
- Lagging behind on walks
- Yelping when touched or if the joints are moved
- Personality change from constant pain
Before starting treatment we recommend the animal gets x-rays so that the condition can be confirmed as well as the treatment regime decided. The severity of the problem plays a direct role in the way it is treated. There are also other joint and spinal problems that can have the same signs as arthritis but need different treatment.
Cartrophen: the wonder medication that works in dogs and cats. This medication is given by injection under the skin once a week for 4 weeks. It works normally for 12 months but in some severe cases the course of injections need to be repeated every 6 months.. This medicine contains the precursor to the development of normal cartilage, it increases the blood supply to the joint to increase the ability for the body to get its immune system to the area, it increases the viscosity of the oil (makes the oil work better) and it increases the ability for the nutrients to get to the cartilage and helps the joint remove the “rubbish” from the damaged cartilage.
This is the medication we recommend for ALL arthritic cases.
Sasha’s Blend: this is an oral product that combines glucosamine and chondritin sulphate with an antioxidant. This is a good product but must be given every day for it to work.
Glucosamine and chondritin sulphate tablets or powder: these are human products that supply the building blocks for cartilage growth. They must be given every day.
Shark cartilage: also supplies glucosamine to assist cartilage regeneration.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory medicines: the veterinarian can prescribe “pain killers” for animals who have severe problems with arthritis. There are a number of medications the vet can use and each case needs to be assessed on its merits.
Other areas to assist animals with arthritis
Weight, exercise and diets can make a big difference to each case of arthritis. Keeping the animal lean or in good weight, not letting the animal over exercise and making sure the exercise is appropriate to each case is very important. Diets high in red meat will worsen the arthritis.
There are commercial dry foods made to assist animals with arthritis – we recommend Royal Canin as a diet for animals with arthritis.
We welcome inquires related to exercises that are helpful and exercises that are harmful to animals with arthritis. Each case is different so giving broad based recommendations in this article is not appropriate.
If you want more information on arthritis then please ring us on 4153 1399 or 4159 1009 or email us and we will send you out more information on individual products and with some more advice that may assist your animal.