We know the story well: one day, your pet is performing all of his or her usual tricks, and the next, it seems your pet is struggling to get up, jump, or move around.
In some cases, the changes can be so gradual an owner may not realize that Fluffy or Fido is coping with pet arthritis until it becomes painfully obvious. A major component of senior pet care is understanding and supporting your pet’s condition, and that’s where we come in. Quality care and guidance can go a long way to making him or her as comfortable as possible.
Thanks to advancements in modern veterinary medicine and active owner involvement, pets are living longer than ever. Many senior pets suffer from osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, which occurs when the cartilage between joints begins to naturally thin out. Without the spongy, shock-absorbing cartilage, your pet may experience sharp pain or slowness as the joints rub together. Eventually, a pet coping with arthritis may avoid using the limb that hurts the most, causing muscle atrophy.
How to Tell
Before we make a formal diagnosis, you may or may not observe tell-tale symptoms of pet arthritis. While many animals are adept at hiding injury, your pet might exhibit any of the following behaviors:
- Decreased appetite
- Changes in personality or behavior
- Limping or gait changes
- Whining, yelping, or other increased vocalization
Coping With Pet Arthritis
Before moving forward with an individual treatment plan, we may need to rule out hip or elbow dysplasia – both of which can be corrected through surgery.
If your pet struggles with obesity, losing weight can really make a difference to painful joints, and we can recommend nutritional adjustments to support joint health and limit weight gain. It can also be difficult to get your senior pet moving, especially if he or she shows pain. However, moderate exercise can improve circulation, keep ligaments flexible, and help shed some of those extra pounds.
How You Can Help
There are various pain management techniques that benefit pet arthritis, including stem cell or laser therapy. Depending on your pet’s age, lifestyle, and severity of symptoms, we may also discuss medication or supplements to decrease swelling and make moving around less painful. In addition, consider adding these comforts and considerations around the house:
- Keep your pet’s food and water dishes on a non-slip surface at a height that doesn’t make him or her strain
- Install ramps and non-skid runners on slippery floors
- Keep a comfortable bed available away from cold drafts
- Install baby gates to stop your pet from climbing up or down stairs
- Gentle heat can help soothe pet arthritis so keep a hot water bottle tucked in his or her bed
- Add an extra grooming session to your weekly routine since your pet may not be able to reach certain parts
Luckily, coping with pet arthritis is made easier by modifying your regular routines and activities. Supporting your arthritic pet also enhances your bond and contributes to his or her graceful aging. As always, never hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.