April 18, 2024
Companion Animal Arthritis

Companion Animal Arthritis: Overview

As dogs and cats grow older, arthritis becomes a common ailment, just as it does in humans. Arthritis refers to inflammation and damage of the joints which causes pain, swelling, and difficulty moving. It develops gradually over time due to “wear and tear” on the joints from years of use and activity. Senior pets are naturally more susceptible due to age-related degeneration of cartilage. With proper management, arthritis in dogs and cats can often be controlled to maximize comfort and mobility even in their golden years.

Causes of Arthritis in Pets
While trauma or previous joint injuries can sometimes trigger Companion Animal Arthritis, the most common cause is simply old age. Cartilage, the tissue covering the ends of bones within a joint, provides cushioning and allows for smooth movement. As pets age, this cartilage breaks down and wears away. This allows bones to rub together improperly, causing inflammation and pain. Genetics also plays a role – large or giant breed dogs have increased risk due to their size putting more pressure on joints during physical activity throughout their lifespan. Obesity is another risk factor as it adds extra weight for the joints to support.

Common Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs and Cats
The symptoms of arthritis can vary depending on which joints are affected but often include:

– Lameness or stiffness – pets may have trouble rising, jumping, climbing stairs.

– Reluctance to exercise or play.

– Swelling or limping in joints.

– Crying out or growling when joints are touched, moved or during activity.

– Difficulty or stiffness when rising from resting position.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Veterinarians diagnose arthritis based on physical exam findings, history, and often x-rays to assess joint changes. Various treatment approaches can help alleviate pain and discomfort:

– Weight management through diet and exercise is important to reduce stress on joints.

– Prescription anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) help reduce pain and swelling.

– Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin support joint cartilage healing and protection.

– Physical rehabilitation including massage, joint supplements, and water therapy help increase mobility.

– For severe cases, prescription pain medications or injections may be needed. Surgical options like joint replacement are also available for dogs.

– Aquatherapy in heated pools allows exercise with reduced impact for arthritic pets.

– Soft bedding, stairs, and carry handles help make it easier to rise and move around the home.

Managing Arthritis Naturally
Lifestyle changes and natural therapies can help pets stay active and comfortable:

– Consistent physical activity such as leashed walks, swimming or gentle play helps increase muscle support without stressing joints. Range-of-motion exercises keep joints flexible.

– Weight control is crucial, so feed appropriate portions and fats. Extra weight puts 60% more pressure on front legs and joints.

– Herbal supplements such as turmeric, boswellia, and celery seed extracts act as natural anti-inflammatories and pain relievers.

– Omega fatty acid supplementation improves joint fluid viscosity for cushioning and mobility. Fish oils provide anti-inflammatory omega-3s.

– Acupuncture and massage relieve muscle spasms, increase circulation and relax tense areas around joints that contribute to pain.

– Warmth from heated pads, blankets or water therapy eases joint stiffness and soothing aromatherapy decreases stress.

– Joint supplements combined with lifestyle changes, physical therapy and appropriate medications or natural anti-inflammatory support can help manage arthritis to keep pets comfortable and active even in senior years. Monitoring for signs of pain or changes in mobility is important.

Arthritis is Common but Manageable
As a naturally occurring consequence of aging, arthritis affects many adult dogs and cats. While no cure exists, with proactive treatment and at-home management strategies, pets can maintain a good quality of life even with mobility issues. Watching for subtle signs, providing joint supplements and omega fats, keeping weight and activity levels appropriate, and introducing calming therapies can go a long way in easing discomfort for arthritic pets. Consult your veterinarian to develop the best arthritis management plan tailored for your pet’s needs.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it