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!
- 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.”
- How do I know if my pet has arthritis?
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.”
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.”
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!