As the days get shorter and the nights colder, spare a thought for your older pet who may be silently suffering in pain. Unlike humans, our pets’ response to pain is general withdrawal. They become quiet and are reluctant to move or go for walks. Owners notice that their pets lie down a lot and have difficulty climbing stairs or getting into cars.
Arthritis literally means joint inflammation. Joints are damaged acutely during traumatic sprains or bumps or slowly over time due to wear and tear. The joints’ response to injury invokes a painful and progressive enzymatic degenerative process which results in cartilage and joint fluid degradation.
At Milton Village Vet we encourage owners of arthritic dogs to take a multimodal approach to their pets’ problem by relieving pain and inflammation, reducing physical load and improving joint function.
Relieve Pain and Inflammation
Pain relief medication forms the mainstay of initial arthritis management and when used safely can dramatically improve quality of life. Monitoring of kidney and liver function and for gastrointestinal side effects is advised. Warm jackets and heated beds can also help.
Reduce Physical Load
Weight loss is by far the simplest and most effective arthritis treatment and can even slow or eliminate the progression of the disease in younger pets. An initial 7-10 days rest helps inflammation resolve then we modify the duration and intensity of future exercise to suit the pet. Walks and swims are usually better than sprinting and fetching.
Improve Joint Function
The holy grail of arthritis management is a treatment based on repair and regeneration. Pentosan or Cartrophen injections given once a week for four weeks and then monthly improves both cartilage matrix and joint fluid quality.
Nutritional supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin (Hills J/D, Sasha’s Blend, Pernaease) and essential fatty acids like fish oil provide cartilage and anti inflammatory precursors. Stem cells and platelet rich plasma hold great future promise.