Degenerative arthritis in pets

As more advance we progress in veterinary medicine, our care becomes better for our pets. Their life expectancy is longer, greater longevity, some diseases are easier to manage, and some even found the cure and treatment. However, this also creates another dilemma. We also see more degenerative diseases, neoplasia and other chronic diseases that we did not see very often before.

In my practice, one of the most common complaint and old age diseases that many owner find difficult to manage is chronic arthritis.

Degenerative arthritis is a condition when there is an increase in wear and tear in a joint, and that the cartilage-the cushion at the end of the bones-are eroded or wears away, hence causing bone to be rub against bone, thus pain, swelling, inflammation and sometimes stiffness. As times goes on, the joint may lose strength through muscle wasting if the animal is no longer using them as much due to pain.

This is a problem particularly in medium to large size breed dogs, and most common joint we see problems are the hips and knees, but can also occur in the elbows. Once degenerative arthritis developed, they are almost impossible to treat or have a cure, however, many dogs can be managed conservatively with supplements, medications, and sometime with physiotherapy or more often a combination of these.

Other things that owner can do to help their pet’s mobility and life quality include:

  • Having a balance activities and adequate rest
  • Regular physical activities and engage in interesting activities that the pets are interested in
  • Maintaining a healthy weight (too fat will put more load on the joint, too thin then they will lose muscle mass)
  • Sometimes may mean having assisting device like harness and carts to help them walk
  • Keeping them in a warm dry place
  • Use soft, well-padded bed
  • Provide good footing in the house
  • Minimize stair climbing and use more ramps or slopes

The most important thing about managing joint disease is early detection. When you see your dogs or cats are less willing to walk, having trouble getting up after resting, or having an odd walking gait, it is best to see your vet sooner than later.

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