Better Pets: Combating Arthritis
View more related buyers guides
Published by TOP4 Team
Did you know? In Australia, one in five dogs suffers from arthritis, compared to one in six human sufferers.
Not only humans suffer from arthritis. Dogs, cats and even rabbits do, too. And because the onset can be slow, symptoms may go unnoticed over time. Owners often believe their pet is simply getting old, when in fact the animal is suffering. Here’s how to recognise the tell tale signs.
- Difficulty rising from a resting position, especially first thing in the morning.
- Reluctance to walk, play, jump or climb stairs.
- Licking, biting or over-grooming of joints.
- Change in personality, from happy and playful to irritable and aggressive.
- Limping or lagging behind on walks.
- Not wanting to be petted - yelping, crying in pain or hissing when touched.
Non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication is available by prescription from your vet to reduce the pain. Your vet may also prescribe cortisone to reduce inflammation, or a recently developed drug that stimulates the active repair of joint cartilage. Never administer medication to your pet without your vet’s advice - drugs used for arthritic pain relief in humans can be lethal to pets.
Dietary supplements such as fish oils are also believed to have anti-inflammatory effects. And traditional or laser acupuncture can be useful in the treatments of arthritis, too. If your vet isn’t familiar with the therapeutic benefits of supplements or acupuncture, contact the Australian Veterinarian Association in your state. They can give you the name of a member of the Australian Association of Holistic Veterinarians or the Australian Acupuncture Association in your area. Visit www.ava.com.au for more information.
Gentle routine exercise will also help relieve the condition, as improved muscle tone takes the strain off inflamed joints. Talk to your vet about the ideal weight for your pet’s skeleton. Once your pet reaches this weight, it will find exercise easier and its medication will also be more effective. Keep in mind though that exercise can aggravate damaged joints. So, until your pet reaches its ideal weight, rest is needed to allow the joints to heal.
If you suspect your pet has arthritis, make an appointment with your vet and mention the signs you’ve noticed. If the check-up confirms your suspicions, your vet should manage the condition with a combination of diet, exercise and medication, if needed.