Does Your Pet Have Arthritis?

It’s not uncommon for pets to develop arthritis during their lives, especially when they’re middle-aged to older. Sometimes it’s just a mild case, often unnoticeable to the pet owners, whereas other times the problem is more debilitating, severely affecting the pet’s quality of life and/or causing complete lameness. The majority of cases, however, fall somewhere in the middle. The time during which arthritis begins to develop can vary greatly and depends on your pet’s breed. Dogs are more prone to developing arthritis than cats, with the larger dog breeds being more vulnerable than their smaller counterparts.

Dog with Arthritis - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

Arthritis and Your Pets

The most common signs of arthritis in your pets are:

  • Stiffness – Your pets might commonly greet you at the door when you get home, however, they might do it more slowly and with less exuberance as their symptoms worsen.
  • Limping – Pets that could once run and romp with relative ease can become noticeably hobbled.
  • Favoring a particular limb – This will be especially noticeable after your pet has been sleeping. It can also be difficult for your pet to get settled for a nap or sleeping easily.
  • Difficulty getting up from a resting position – Laying still for a long while can make muscles stiffer, worsening low grade pain significantly.
  • Reluctance to jump up or climb on anything – Pets that used to climb up on the furniture or cats that used to sit atop the refrigerator now begin to show a reluctance to do so, preferring to rest on lower surfaces.
  • Noticeable pain – Your pets may struggle to get around because of the pain. Minimizing and/or managing the pain is the primary course of action here (a well-padded or heated bed can work wonders for your pet’s achy joints).

Managing Your Pet’s Arthritis

Because of the higher costs involved with many surgeries, pain management is many times the only realistic option for many pet owners. Medical treatment for arthritis has greatly improved in recent years. Through a proper diet, exercise regimen, supplements, anti-inflammatories, and pain relief, you may be able to decrease the progression of your pet’s arthritis. Pain management is a multifaceted endeavor, enhanced significantly by the following recommendations:

  • Weight Management: Ensuring that your pet isn’t overweight can take some unnecessary stress off of their joints. Helping your pet lose weight until their recommended weight is reached, and then keeping it there, may be the most important thing an owner can do for a pet (this can also prove to be the most difficult part of the process). You have control over what they eat!
  • Exercise: This is phase 2. Exercise will provide your pet with better range of motion and will build muscle, thereby reducing the wear and tear on the joints. Leash walking (or walking on a treadmill if you have one), swimming, slow jogging, and simply going up and down the stairs are superb low-impact exercises for your pets. It’s best to consult with your vet regarding an appropriate exercise program for your pet, as each case is different.

Many pets suffer through chronic, low-grade pain and discomfort for far too long through no fault of their owners. You may be totally unaware of your pet’s struggles until the symptoms become glaringly obvious. Because your pet can’t communicate with words, you are their primary health advocate. The professional staff at 5 Points Animal Hospital understand that not all pets or their owners are the same. As such, we strive to provide customized health and wellness plans to fit your budget and lifestyle. Please contact us at 615-750-2377 for all your pet health care needs. We look forward to hearing from you!

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