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♦Osteoarthritis affects one in every five dogs.

♦Arthritis can affect dogs of any size, but is more commonly recognised in larger breeds.


 ♦Recognising arthritis in cats can be difficult because the condition progresses slowly and cats don't often complain about their aching joints.  However, studies have revealed up to 90 percent of senior cats have arthritis when X-rayed!

♦Thinning of joint cartilage can lead to a vicious cycle of joint deterioration, reduced mobility, and pain.


♦Regular, moderate exercise may help delay arthritis in our pets.

What Is It?

Arthritis is a disease of the joints that can reduce mobility and cause pain. Often seen in older pets, the most common form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis (osteo = bone; arthr = joint; itis = disease) or degenerative joint disease. Normally, joints form smooth connections between bones. Osteoarthritis involves thinning of joint cartilage (the protective cushion between bones), fluid swelling and the formation of bony growths within the joint. Over time, this can lead to reduced joint mobility as well as pain. Osteoarthritis affects one in every five dogs and upto 90 percent of older cats.  Arthritis can also be caused by injury, infection, the body’s own immune system, or developmental problems.

Signs and Diagnosis

Signs of arthritis that you may observe, include the following:

•Stiffness after exercise or after periods of extended rest

•Muscle wasting

•Restricted movement

•Joint swelling

•Trouble getting up, laying down, walking, climbing stairs, or jumping

Recognising arthritis in our pets can be difficult as the condition often progresses slowly and animals don't complain about their aching joints. Some owners assume that signs of arthritis are “normal” in aging animals.

Ensuring you bring your dog or cat in for it's annual health check will help us to identify clinical signs promptly. Joint x-rays may be recommended as these can reveal bony growths and abnormalities.


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An X-ray showing osteoarthritis in a cat's elbow joint.

Treatment

Osteoarthritis is not considered curable. For most pets, it is a chronic illness that can be effectively managed through a combination of therapies. Treatment options will differ depending on the cause of the arthritis and the severity of your pet’s condition. These options are likely to change over time as the condition progresses. We tailor an individual management plan for each pet from the following list of treatments:

•Keeping your pet at it's optimal weight can help by decreasing the load on their joints.  Feeding your dog or cat the right amount of high-quality food should help with weight control.  We stock prescription diets for pets that are proven to improve the signs of arthritis.

•Carefully monitored exercise on soft surfaces can help affected dogs.

•Because arthritis is aggravated by cold and damp, keep your pet warm and dry. Padded beds can help.

•Massage can increase your pet’s flexibility, circulation, and sense of well-being. Professional animal physical therapists are available, ask us for a recommendation.

Pain medication, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (commonly called NSAIDs), may help relieve signs, but you should never give your pet a drug without your vet’s recommendation
Beware, many human and canine pain relievers are toxic to cats.  NSAIDs are commonly prescribed to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.  These may come in the form of tablets, flavoured chews or syrup.

•Many of our patients benefit from a medication called Pentosan Polysulfate (often called “cartrophen”) which possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and chondroprotective (cartilage protecting) properties.  It is usually administered as a series of injections.


•Glucosamine and chondroitin as well as some amino acid supplements have been used to help manage arthritis in dogs and other animals.  These are widely available in joint supplements as well as some specially formulated pet foods.


•Acupuncture isn’t just for people! It’s relatively painless and has shown some success in animals.


•There are surgical procedures that may be appropriate in some cases.


Stem Cell Therapy is a new area of treatment based on the use of multipotent cells to regenerate and repair joint tissue. Stem cells derived from donor fat tissue are administered to dogs with arthritis.  Whilst this is still a developing area of treatment, many owners have reported positive results.  Please contact us to discuss whether Stem Cell Therapy could be appropriate for your dog.   

•A low-stress environment, plenty of affection, and supportive care can also help improve your pet’s quality of life.

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Meet Albert, he was our first ever Stem Cell Therapy recipient, his
owner Neil is delighted with the improvements in Albert's arthritis.

Aids for Arthritic Pets

•Slip-free flooring
•Soft bedding
•Ramps (instead of steps)
•A warm, dry environment
•Help with grooming

Prevention

Regular, moderate exercise and a high-quality diet can help delay aging, manage body weight, and keep your pet’s musculoskeletal system in good shape.