Arthritis and your Senior Pet
Did you know?
That 25-30% of all dogs suffer from arthritis or hip dysplasia!
And nearly 100% of dogs over the age of 10 have osteoarthritis!
- 47% of large dogs are likely to develop osteoarthritis.
- Many cats suffer as well and this can contribute to other problems such as constipation and accidents outside the litter box.***
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a disease of aging in animals that affects cats and dogs and can impact any joint. It is a chronic, painful degenerative disease that can severely affect the quality of your pet’s life. Often it is associated with obesity, genetics, and overuse of joints.
How can I tell if my pet has osteoarthritis?
For pet owners there aren’t any easy ways to know if your pet has osteoarthritis. Instead there are behavior changes that will quietly herald the arrival of osteoarthritis in your pet. In fact, because onset of osteroarthritis is generally quite slow, owners often confuse their pet’s slowness, stiffness, inability to jump or lack of enthusiasm for walks as “he’s just getting old.”
If you look back a few months or a year of your pet’s life, consider whether they were this stiff and slow. Do they still jump up? Do they want to walk? Are they still active?
If you are answering no to these questions, your pet may be dealing with arthritis.
Using Radiographs in Diagnosis
Fortunately, radiographs can tell us whether your pet has arthritis. In fact, early detection of osteoarthritis will help you keep your pet pain free and may even slow the progression of the disease.
If left untreated, the pain of arthritis can become so severe that your pet may no longer wish to walk or climb stairs, rise from rest or even have normal bowel movements. Your pet can become withdrawn and possibly aggressive to being touched or approached.
Therefore, during the annual exam of your senior pet, you and your veterinarian may agree to perform radiographs of certain areas to determine if degenerative changes have occurred and to guide appropriate treatment.
Early arthritis can be treated using some combination of weight reduction, prescription mobility diets, nutraceuticals, and injectable or oral chondroprotective agents. Acupuncture and massage have also been shown to control pain. More severe arthritis is usually treated with prescription medication in combination with the above therapies.
Radiographs also provide a view of internal organs in the area such as heart, lung, kidney, liver, or gastrointestinal tract. This provides a baseline by which to compare any changes in the future and sometimes uncovers hidden problems at an early stage when treatment is most beneficial.