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Arthritis in Dogs & Cats

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Does your cat or dog seems a bit slower than they once were? There may be a good reason – osteoarthritis (Arthritis) or DJD (Degenerative Joint Disease). Arthritis is a very common illness seen in older pets. Arthritis is a chronic, degenerative joint disease that makes movement difficult and painful. This is due to inflammation of the joints. This condition affects the hips, elbows and knees and can be down to wear and tear of the joint.

Arthritis can develop in younger pets if there has been a problem with joint development. This could also evolve into other joint related conditions.

DJD can become a painful condition for pets and unfortunately the damage is irreversible. Early treatment and intervention is critical to slow the progression of the disease.

Recognising the signs of Arthritis – what should I look out for?

• An overall decrease in activity, especially play
• Stiffness and slowness in getting up from a lying position
• Limping or bunny hopping with the hind legs
• Difficulty walking or climbing stairs
• Difficulty  jumping in to the car, on the bed or sofa
• Soreness when the joint is touched

If your pet becomes reluctant to go outside, or jump on furniture, then this could be an early indicator. If you notice any of the signs above, please don’t think that your pet is “slowing down with age”.

The sooner arthritis is first diagnosed and treated, the better your pet’s quality of life will be. Arthritis can develop after an accident or trauma causing damage to cartilage, which can affect mobility later in life.

Could my pet be prone to arthritis?

Large dog breeds can have a genetic predisposition to develop joint disease. Breeds such as Labrador Retriever’s and German Shepherds are most prone to joint problems in their hips and elbows.

German Shepherd

If you have a large dog, start by providing them with food that is designed for large breeds. This is to ensure they receive the correct nutritional balance meaning the bones and joints develop at an appropriate rate. If bone growth occurs too quickly then the joints may form abnormally resulting in joint disease.

What treatments are available?

Using several treatments often has a better effect than one treatment on its own. Most vets will tailor the treatment to the individual case.

Exercise

Exercise will strengthen the muscles that support joints. Short frequent exercise is most beneficial with low-impact exercise such as walking. Swimming will also improve joint mobility. Vary your pets exercise regime and take breaks if needed when flare-ups occur.

Weight control

Cats and dogs with arthritis often become inactive, which can result in weight gain. Controlling your pet’s weight will help on arthritic joints and make it easier to move around.

Supplements and medication

Anti-inflammatory drugs combat inflammation in the joints, relieving pain and increasing mobility. Glucosamine can be an effective supplement in treating and aiding your pet’s mobility. Glucosamine helps by rebuilding cartilage and lubricating the joint.

Alternative therapies include;
  • Laser therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Massage

Insuring your pet from an early age ensures that they are covered if they develop a condition that requires ongoing treatment. With our lifetime cover they will get the ongoing treatment they need, as we will pay for your pet’s treatment as long as you need. Find out more about our dog insurance and cat insurance and compare policy benefits online.

By Jennifer Nash

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