Aches and pains is your pet affected?
Cold damp weather can unmask signs of arthritic change in cats and dogs and now is a good time to take a look at your pets and make sure they are comfortable.
Do they seem stiff or lame? Do they have difficulty getting up or even lying down? Does it take a while for them to get going in the morning? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then your pet would benefit from a veterinary health check to identify any problems and work out how best to treat them.
The joints that are most susceptible to arthritis are those permitting free limb movements called synovial joints. The ends of the bones that meet at these joints are covered by very smooth articular cartilage and lubricated with synovial fluid.
In pets with arthritis, this protective cartilage is damaged and worn away, resulting in exposure of the underlying bone causing pain and inflammation. Secondary ‘fluffy’ new bone is commonly deposited around the joint and may be seen on x-ray. Affected joints commonly appear stiff, swollen and painful.
Although arthritis cannot be cured, there are things we can do to help:
Weight control overweight pets tend to struggle far more with stiffness and arthritis than slender ones. The extra weight puts more strain on the diseased joints and weight loss can really help this.
Exercise regimes most stiff dogs benefit from two or three shorter walks every day rather than one longer one from time to time. Other forms of exercise may also be helpful and hydrotherapy is used in some cases.
Medication and supplements vets can do a lot to help your pet feel more comfortable and slow down the progression of the disease. Recommendations from your vet will always be tailored to your pet’s individual needs.
If you believe your pet is showing signs of arthritis, contact your vet today for an appointment.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen. w: www.hillsidevets.co.uk.