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…
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.
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!
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!
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…