May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. When arthritis comes to mind, most people think of older adults or seniors with stiff joints and trouble being as agile as they used to be. However, many of the issues that older adults experience, some younger pets can experience as well. Today we will cover osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis in both pets and people. Osteoarthritis refers to when flexible tissue at the ends of bones experience wear and tear. Here is some information about the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis in pets and diagnosis and treatment.
Osteoarthritis primarily affects dogs, but cats can and do experience the disease as well. Older and larger breeds usually experience this form of arthritis more so than any other group of canines. Another name of osteoarthritis is Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). It refers to an inflammation of the joint that stems from cartilage deterioration. In some cases, this inflammation becomes worse and progresses due to several factors such as age, injury, or another underlying condition. Look out for these signs/symptoms to detect if your canine companion may have osteoarthritis:
- Stiffness/Difficulty Getting Up
- Reluctance to Enjoy Playtime
- Weight Gain
- Mood Changes/Irritability
- Wincing If You Pet or Touch Your Dog
- Difficulty Posturing When Trying to Urinate or Defecate
- Muscle Loss
The diagnosis of osteoarthritis involves a combination of history, physical exam, and various imaging modalities. One of our veterinarians will gear the physical exam towards the affected joint or joints and palpate the joints and limbs to see if your canine companion has a painful response. They’ll also look at the joint capsule thickening and assess if there’s been any fluid buildup in the joints. X-Rays help to see if there are any changes in bone structure.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for osteoarthritis. However, you can still have a hopeful outlook because there are quite a few options that can help alleviate some of your canine companion’s pain—preventative measures such as controlling your pet’s weight help as well. Some treatment options include your canine companion taking joint supplements such as glucosamine and medications, such as NSAIDs. Cats can also be helped by weight management and supplements, but cannot take NSAIDs like dogs due to the risk of kidney damage with long-term use.
Physical therapy is also super effective. This can include canine rehabilitation and strengthening exercises and cold laser therapy. Cold laser therapy helps improve circulation while releasing endorphins that fight pain and reduce inflammation. Hydrotherapy, your canine companion walking on our underwater treadmill, also helps with mobility issues. If you see that your four-legged friend has been limping or experiencing a lot of pain, schedule an exam today, and don’t forget to spread the news about National Arthritis Awareness Month!
Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, We’ll Treat Your Pets Like Family!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!