Osteoarthritis, also known as arthritis, is a non-curable and progressive disease which causes chronic pain. In practice it is one of the most common diseases we see, with studies showing that it affects 4 out of 5 geriatric dogs.
Why does Arthritis develop?
Degeneration of the normal structures within a joint, leads to joint arthritis. Joints are lined with smooth cartilage to allow easy movement, over years of use this cartilage roughens leading to erosion. Without this cartilage the joints become stiff and inflamed, leading to bone change. Most commonly arthritis affects the hips, elbows and stifles, but can affect any joint.
Pain in the joint reduces your pet's use of that joint/limb. This can be very subtle, but will lead to the reduction of strength in muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding the joint. Your pet will then compensate putting more strain on other joints causing inflammation to occur in those. This is why it is important to discuss with our vets effective management of arthritis to give a good quality of life.
Contributing factors that increase the risk of your pet getting arthritis:
- They are overweight
- They have suffered injury to a joint
- They have joint development problems such as dysplasia
- They do a lot of hard exercise
- Or can be degeneration over time
Common signs can include:
- Difficulty climbing stairs
- An overall decrease in activity, especially play
- Resting more than usual
- Being slow to get up from lying down
- Slowing down on walks, or refusing walks
- Slow or stiff movements upon waking, after a rest, or in cold weather
- Reduced ability to jump up
- Reduced ability to bend joints
- Licking at a joint
Early signs can be as simple as your pet beginning to slow down. This is often just though of as a normal step in your pet getting older, however arthritis affect movement because it is painful. It is essential that this chronic and sometimes acute pain is managed effectively.
Our vets will give your pet a full examination and ask questions in regards to home behaviour, routine and any unusual changes you may have noticed. Our vets may offer to x-ray the joints to assess them for arthritic changes.
Effective management can include one or a combination of:
- Cartrophen injections. This is a joint supportive injection that promotes cartilage production. We have seen some great results.
- Supplements. These are usually used long term, and a safe way to support joint health. At Bellevue we recommend Yumove advance 360. This has Green Lipped Mussel, Glucosamine and Hyaluronic Acid all to help support joint and aid the body’s anti-inflammatory process.
- Therapeutic laser. Laser therapy, also known as Photobiomodulation, targets damaged cells and helps speed up regeneration. This is a non-invasive treatment that is very relaxing for most pets.
- Anti-inflammatory pain relief. This type of pain relief reduces inflammation in the joints and relieves pain. Before starting long term treatment, we advise checking liver and kidney values which requires us to take a blood sample, which can be run in-house.
- Hydrotherapy referral. Hydrotherapy pools allows exercise in a non-weight bearing environment which relieves pressure on joints, reducing pain and encouraging movement. Anti-inflammatory effect because of hydrostatic pressure which leads to an increased range of movement. Hydrotherapy is a great way to increase muscle mass.
- Acupuncture referral. Veterinary acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s own pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances. Only to be performed by a qualified Veterinary Surgeon. Our own Jan Bradshaw BSc, BVSc(Bristol), MRCVS performs acupuncture in practice and as a referral. She has seen great results!
For more information please contact the clinic on 01373 836186.
Category: Small Animals