Category Archives: arthritis

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s “Joint” Talks: A Discussion About Arthritis

When the weather turns wintry, every pet has a different reaction!
Some pets love the cold and snow, while others  prefer to cuddle up by the fire. Furry friends who seem stiff or uncomfortable may be experiencing symptoms of arthritis. We sat down with Kingsbrook Animal Hospital’s own Dr. Riley to get more information on this important issue!

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Riley was glad to chat about arthritis.

 

  1. So, we know that arthritis affects our pets’ joints. What exactly is arthritis, and how does it happen?
    Dr. R: “Arthritis is caused by the body’s response to instability or inflammation in a joint. It can erode cartilage, which acts like a cushion in a healthy joint to keep bones from rubbing together, and form irregular surfaces inside the joint. Conditions like hip dysplasia, a ligament rupture, or a loose kneecap (luxating patella) can lead to arthritis.”
  2. How do I know if my pet has arthritis?

KAH veterinarian Dr. Walker’s rescue kitty Smokey Joe suffers from arthritis in his joints.

Dr. R:  “Pets who have arthritis will start to show changes in their habits. They may lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, like playing with a toy or chasing squirrels.
Often, we notice dogs limping, or cats who can’t groom themselves as well. Many pets who have arthritis begin to lose muscle around the affected joint. Arthritic pets may be slow to get up or lie down, and they can have trouble getting comfortable.”

Even guinea pigs can have arthritis! KAH technician Sam poses with Hawke, who is on daily NSAIDs to help with joint pain.

3. What can I do to help my pet stay comfortable if s/he has arthritis?
Dr. R: “The best thing we can do for our animals is to seek treatment before the problem becomes severe. Intervening early means we have a better chance of slowing down arthritis or preventing additional complications. A joint supplement, like Dasuquin, with proven ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM is an easy way to help pets who suffer from arthritis. Many animals also do well with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs.”

4. I worry about using a lot of medications for my pets. Are there options to treat arthritis that don’t involve drugs?

Dr. R: “Yes, there are! Even pets who don’t have joint pain can benefit from a fish oil/fatty acid supplement, but it is great for joint health. There are prescription diets, like Hills™ j/d and Royal Canin™ Mobility Support, that can help with arthritis symptoms. Physical therapy, or even consistent regular exercise (with a veterinarian’s approval) can help to keep joints moving and decrease stiffness. And there are some great alternative therapies available, too—laser therapy and acupuncture help a lot of pets stay comfortable and happy.”

KAH technicians Lainey and Julie pose with Rocket. Dachshunds are a dog breed prone to arthritis.

All of the veterinarians here at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD, are excited to help pets who are suffering from arthritis, and the entire staff is happy to answer any questions about symptoms or treatment options!

 

 

Assisted Living For Animals: Senior Pet Tips From Kingsbrook Animal Hospital

At Kingsbrook Animal Hospital, we know our furry companions are more than just pets—they’re family members! Our animals live, sleep, eat, and play right alongside us, and they age with us as well. Just as aging can pose obstacles for humans, becoming a “senior” pet comes with some challenges too. Below, we’ll look at some of the common changes we see in our senior patients, and discuss what we can do at home (and at KAH!) to help make them more comfortable.

KAH technician Nora with her dog, Sam.

KAH technician Nora with her dog, Sam. Sam is almost 9 years old, and eats Hill’s j/d to help with her bones and joints!

One of the biggest changes we notice in senior pets is in their skeletal systems. Older bones and joints just don’t move like they used to, and patients may suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, or even a narrowing of the space between the bones of the spine. This can make getting up or lying down uncomfortable. Dogs may not want to jump up on the bed anymore or may have difficulty getting into the car; cats may spend less time on the top of the couch or in the window sills, preferring to nap in a sunbeam on the floor instead. To help with these problems, a joint supplement like Dasuquin® can help the pet’s body repair cartilage to reduce arthritis pain. Hills Prescription Diets offers j/d, a diet with glucosamine, chondriotin, and omega-3 fatty acids added in to help support aging joints.  Orthopedic foam beds are comfortable and provide good cushioning for achy pets. Stairs and ramps are available to make transitions in height easier on elderly pets. It’s also important to provide regular low-intensity exercise to keep pets mobile and active. Being sedentary increases stiffness in joints, and becoming overweight puts more stress on any patient’s bones.

KAH technician Lainey gently reassures Fuji as he wakes up from anesthesia.

KAH technician Lainey gently reassures Fuji   as he wakes up from anesthesia.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or pain medications can be prescribed by a veterinarian for long-term use in uncomfortable patients.

Another issue is hearing and vision loss. Aging pets often lose some of their hearing–which means it is harder to get their attention, but easier to startle them. Most pets will still respond to loud hand-claps or vibrations in the floor, but it’s best to approach deaf or partially-deaf pets slowly and gently to avoid a fear response. Dogs, especially, seem to lose some low-light vision and some depth perception as they get older. For these pets, steps and stairs become harder to navigate. Leaving lights on at night or teaching an older dog to begin sleeping downstairs can help to minimize falls and anxiety.

Even cats can go for walks! Make sure any pet that goes outdoors is receiving preventative medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworms.

Even cats can go for walks! Make sure any pet that goes outdoors is receiving preventative medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworms.

Some pets will experience cognitive dysfunction or dementia as they age, which can manifest with symptoms much like Alzheimer’s disease in humans. These pets can become anxious, may stare into space or wander in circles, and sometimes will vocalize randomly and repeatedly. Occasionally, there may even be a break in house- or litterbox-training. Purina ProPlan (Bright Minds) and Hills Prescription Diets (B/D) both offer diets that can help with these symptoms, and there are many medications available with a veterinary prescription that will make pets with cognitive dysfunction more comfortable. Keeping pets engaged and stimulated with walks, playtime, and new activities will reduce some stress and anxiety. Providing extra potty breaks for dogs or extra litterboxes for cats can also help to mitigate some of these changes.

Less Food = Longer Life


Less is more when it comes to a long, healthy life. In a benchmark study, researchers found that Labrador Retrievers fed 25% less food than the normal guidelines lived about 2 years longer than those fed the “normal” amount. More suprisingly, they found that 77% of the “normal” Labs developed radiographic evidence of arthritis at age eight compared to only 10% of the calorie restricted dogs.. And 38% of the calorie-restricted dogs were still living after all the regular-diet dogs had passed. This study concluded that dogs fed fewer calories lived longer and had fewer health problems. Do your pet a favor and treade the treats for extra playtime. You just may add high-quality years to both of your lives.

Fetch Spring/Summer 2010