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Pets age just as we do

Every day I come across a consultation with a geriatric patient with untreated arthritis. My clients often mistaken signs of arthritis as being normal and part of the aging process. While arthritis is a disease of geriatric animals, obesity nowadays is also leading to early onset of arthritis in animals.

Dogs and cats will not overtly show signs of discomfort.

I mean look at Oscar (7-8 year old labrador) below. I examined him last week for an ear infection and discovered he was sore in his hips. He is overweight & his owner has started the weight loss program and is doing great work. I started him on joint formula and a full course of pentosan injections and he was bouncing like a puppy again. Owner was absolutely thrilled! Pretty irresistible face…

Oscar

For anyone who is currently being medicated for any type of joint pain or muscle spasms, can you imagine yourself not being given pain relief when you are hurting?!? We will all ultimately age and may suffer from arthritis and will always get treated for it. So the same concept applies to our pets except that they are way more stoic than us and consequently silently endure their pain.

We, humans, do not have a very high tolerance for pain and can scream blue murder at ripping a toe nail.

On the other hand, our pets will mask severe pain until it becomes so unbearable and that is why vets often get presented with the collapsed stiff dog that can’t move a muscle or the cat with overgrown toe nails that cries whenever it is patted.

Check out Rosie below, 15-year-old Labradoodle. She definitely does not look her age, don’t you agree? She also still runs around like a puppy but she definitely had lower back pain and a mild stiff gait on my examination today. She has been started on the joint formula and I will monitor her progress.

rosie

We need to read between the lines and pay attention to the very little things. Arthritis is far more under-diagnosed and thus left un-treated in cats as opposed to dogs. However, it is not uncommon for me to observe very obvious signs of stiffness and discomfort in both my canine and feline patients.

The hard part is convincing the owners it is not just part of the aging process and that in fact their pet is in pain.

I thoroughly discuss the subtle symptoms with them that include difficulty getting up or sitting down in the mornings in dogs especially in the colder weather or excessive sleeping and avoiding jumping up on high spots in cats. The more obvious signs of arthritis include: inability to jump up on the couch anymore, very stiff gait, decreased activity to complete inactivity.

Check out Mina, my 9-10 year old labrador that is so full of spice. I know she has arrived for her scheduled as I hear her excited bark as she arrives. She is managed on a range of products: joint formula and pain killers on an as needed basis. Every couple of months especially over the winter, she will start limping and having serious difficulty getting up in the morning and so we put her on a pentosan course and voila she is back to her puppy self in no time!

mina

I am a fan of preventative medicine too and so often will recommend putting pets on joint formula for arthritis if they are in the predisposed age group. Obviously weight control is pivotal in any of my arthritic management protocols. I feel so happy and relieved when owners allow me to treat there pets’ arthritis and they come back saying:

“Oh my god, my dog was bouncing like a puppy again!”

I hear cat owners rejoice at how much more active and lively their kitty cats are after we started treating them for arthritis.

We have several treatment options for arthritis. The safest and most effective ones with patients suffering from early signs of arthritis include adding a supplement in the diet to aid in managing arthritis in both cats and dogs. There are so many great products out there from Bruce‘s joint products to Sasha’s Blend or Joint Guard to Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d and so forth.

In dogs, we also have this great and very effective product called pentosan (also known as Cartrophen) that is a natural drug that seems to lubricate joints and treat arthritis without any reported side effects. Your dog would require 4 consecutive weekly injections and by the 3rd injection, you should see a major response if the pentosan trial is successful. I often hear owners telling me that they noticed a huge response from the first pentosan injection. Pentosan has not been registered for use in cats.

Some pets will have severe arthritis and supplements +/- pentosan will simply not cut it.

They require pain relief to help them get around. There are a range of anti-inflammatories available like carprofen, rimadyl, meloxicam, previcox and so forth. I always insist we should be running blood tests prior to putting these animals on these medications as they can cause kidney and liver issues. We need to try to use them in moderation but sometimes keeping your pet comfortable is the our biggest priority!

And last but not least, meet Sandy, my beautiful 12-year-old german shepherd cross patient with severe arthritis. She like Mina is on the whole range of products but requires daily pain killers. She is bright, happy and comfortable but has a very severe stiff hind limb gait.

This wonderful pooch would not be able to get around or even sit down comfortably without her current medications.

Her owner loves her to bits and will do anything to keep her pain-free and happy!

Sandy

As we always say, we want to give your pets (canine, feline, equine, avian and the list goes on) a good quality NOT just quantity of life.

So for all you out there with pets with possible signs of arthritis, get your pets booked in with your local vets and help them perk up and go back to their puppy and kitten ways…

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About Rayya

Hi I am Dr. Rayya. I created this site to take you on a journey of my life as a vet! I hope to inspire you, teach you, learn from you. Most importantly help pet owners and animals around the world by sharing pictures, videos and posts from my everyday experiences.

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26 Comments on “Pets age just as we do”

  1. Elin Says:

    Great informative post today, Dr.Rayya 🙂 Love it! And your patients are sooo adoreable 😉

    Reply

  2. Jodi Stone Says:

    Dr. Rayya, what do you think about Glucosamine supplements? Do you think it is smart to put a dog who is about 7 on them?

    Reply

    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      Dear Jodi :-)…it definitely is worth putting a 7 year old dog on glucosamine supplements especially if it is a pure bred dog like a labrador or german shepherd or border collie or etc. The dosage of glucosamine is 66mg/kg at the top of my head. I will double check it for you…

      Reply

  3. Rosie Scribblah Says:

    It’s so difficult to tell if a cat is in pain a lot of the time – you’re right, they’re more stoic than we hairless apes.

    Reply

    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      You are absolutely right Rosie :-)…cats really keep to themselves and can make it too challenging for us to determine they are in pain…as opposed to us hairless apes,hehehehe

      Reply

  4. 2browndawgs Says:

    I don’t think people realize how a dog carrying extra weight can contribute to arthritis. It is great that Oscar’s owners are working on his weight.

    Reply

    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      You often hear about how impaired people can get because of being overweight. It is interesting that there is not the connection that pets being overweight, will also suffer from the same issues with mobility as people…

      Reply

  5. barb19 Says:

    Excellent post Rayya, invaluable information about watching out for signs of arthritis and treatment.
    I am going to put this on my FB Fan Page,(http://facebook.com/petpowertails) as I think the more pet owners who read it, the better able they will be to get treatment for their possibly arthritic pets.
    Thank you so much for this info.

    Reply

  6. nicole Says:

    gwendolyn’s holistic doctor recommended implementation of salmon oil into her diet. supposedly, it protects the joints and prompts a shiny coat. it’s definitely beautified her coat, but i’m unable to gauge the results on her joints (clearly!). so, my question is, what do you think about salmon oil as a holistic preventative for arthritis? ~ http://www.nicoleandgwendolyn.com

    Reply

    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      So I contacted my boss Dr. Bruce Syme who is a guru on holistic medicine and has created his own line of products about salmon oil. He said that salmon oil is high in omega 3 fats and a good preventative for arthritis BUT you must make sure it is pressed flesh oil (not liver oil).

      Reply

      • nicole Says:

        i love that you conducted additional research to answer my inquiry about salmon oil! thank you so much for doing that! 🙂 i’ve already recommended your blog site to several of my friends! with regard to the salmon oil, i supplement gwendolyn’s food with grizzly oil, and it seems to satisfy the components mentioned by dr. syme. we purchase the oil from gwendolyn’s daycare and boarding facility, and they provide a fabulous description of it here: http://www.mistypinesdogpark.com/store/Grizzly_Salmon_Oil.html

      • Rayya The Vet Says:

        I am glad I could be of assistance 🙂 … Thanks for the link, will definitely check it out… Can’t wait to see gwendolyn’s next outfit :-)…keep up the awesome work with providing your pooch with a healthy lifestyle.. Your dedication to gwendolyn is refreshing!

  7. dogkisses Says:

    Hi! What a great blog! I found you via Learning from Dogs.

    I have a senior/geriatric dog, Tiny. He’s part Rottweiler and Basset hound, so he’s a cutie with a big head, big hound dog eyes, and relatively short legs.

    Tiny is almost eleven years old. He did get overweight, but has lost it now. But, he developed arthritis, and it is sad. He started hiding in the other room, and that’s how I knew something was wrong. Then noticed dark spots around his joints in his legs. Took him to the vet, and she said he needed medication. We did the necessary blood work before we administered the drug, and things looked good. I used Rymadyl for about three weeks and he did great. He also has seizures, but not so often he needs medication yet. He had a seizure on it, but a couple of weeks after, and I think it was stress.

    Tiny is loyal to my adult son who has a disability and had to go into the hospital and Tiny has a seizure every time my son has had to go, even though he doesn’t live with us. They have a strong bond.

    The vet is good, and tries to work with people on a low budget, so we decided to stop the Rymadyl and give Neurontin. I had a large bottle. This was about a month ago. It has helped him sleep, and he doesn’t shake as much while sleeping. I don’t know why, but his legs jerk a lot when he sleeps. Vets said many dogs do this. On Neurontin (Gabapentin) he is slower, and it is nothing like Rymadyl, so I’m getting a prescription tomorrow. I feel so bad for Tiny. I’ve never heard of that injection, pentosin.

    I had a dog, a beautiful lab, my best best friend who got bone cancer. They gave her Tramadol. I didn’t know at that time what arthritis truly felt like. I promised Free to speak of our good times, and I do, but I learned a lot from the hard times we went through.

    I don’t ever want a dog to know the pain of arthritis, now that I have it, without treatment! Ever.

    It is such severe pain! Plus, Tramadol? Well, it sure doesn’t cut it for my pain.

    I am going to get Tiny a joint supplement. I wish he had been on it already, but he isn’t. The vet is suggesting 50mg of Rymadyl twice a day. I wonder, if a good joint supplement would mean he could lessen the Rymadyl. I’m also going to change his diet.

    We took Tiny for a short swim in the lake yesterday. I thought that would feel good for him. He didn’t swim long, but he did sleep good last night. I hope it was good for him.

    Tiny is a very special dog, but then, of course, they all are! Dogs rule, and cats are cool :).

    Reply

    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      Tiny sounds like a very happy and much loved pooch…I definitely recommend a joint supplement and it should decrease the dose and frequency of use of rimadyl. You must also trial Tiny on the full course of pentosan injections as he may respind brilliantly…best of luck

      Reply

      • dogkisses Says:

        Hi Dr. Rayya, Indeed, Tiny is loved :).

        I will ask our Vet about the pentosan today. Thanks again and I look forward to learning about dogs from your blog.

        Am looking forward to learning about dogs from your blog.

        dogkisses.

      • Rayya The Vet Says:

        You are most welcome…I am very happy to impart as much knowledge out there…please feel free to fire away about any relevant questions you have :-)… Give tiny a huge liver treat from me and big hug

  8. Rayya The Vet Says:

    I know that feeling…hehehe..

    Reply

  9. Britt@absolutealaia Says:

    Hi Rayya, Jordan is on meloxicam for his prostate (with a side dose of Zantac to calm his tummy and all is going well) I have noticed his back right leg shaking when lies down and he also is showing the usually age related, 13 year old, issues eg not being able to get up quickly, etc. Is it ok to give a joint formula to him when on these drugs?

    Reply

    • Rayya Says:

      Hello Britt. You are obviously on the right track with Jordan. You can definitely start him on joint formula. It is not going to interact with any of his medications and is merely a supplement. Best of luck!
      Cheers,
      Rayya

      Reply

  10. IsobelandCat Says:

    This is a great post, and so important. As you say, it is the observation of changes in an animal’s behaviour that can alert us to something going wrong. Cat never complained about his rthritis, but I realised he was walking round the block rather than jumping over the wall as he used to do. That made me watch him more carefully, and I guessed he had arthritis. Medication made such a difference to him. He also waned me to carry him u stairs more often, so I guess that hurt too.

    Reply

    • Rayya Says:

      You are very observant…:-)…a change in behaviour is usually the tell tale of something going on. Cats are often under diagnosed for arthritis because they don’t show an obvious lameness. They just avoid jumping, sleep more to avoid pain & owners assume it is a normal part of the aging process. Cats stop jumping & decrease their activity when they have sore joints. Good on you for getting your kitty cat the help he needs 🙂

      Reply

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