Managing Your Pet's Arthritis
Arthritis is a common condition for many older pets (and humans). If your pet has arthritis, you won't be able to cure it, but you can help your pet to live more comfortably.
How Can I Tell if My Pet has Arthritis?
When your pet has arthritis, you will usually notice a change in behavior. He might move more slowly, or not jump up to his favorite spots as much. He might get upset when you touch him, stop eating or seem grumpy. Your pet can't tell you about his pain, so you will have to watch closely. If your pet seems stiff and in pain when he moves, take him to your vet. It is important that your pet be correctly diagnosed with the specific type of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, so he can get the proper treatment. Your vet can also rule out other disease like hypokalemia, cognitive dysfunction or cancer, which can have similar symptoms.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, both in animals and humans. Most elderly animals live with it in varying degrees. Osteoarthritis describes the condition when cartilage that cushions your joints wears away, causing the bones to rub together. This can happen in any joint, but is most common in:
Treating Pet Arthritis
First of all, never give your pet human medication to treat arthritis or any other ailment. It is all too easy to harm or kill your pet with an overdose. If you give your pet arthritis medication, give only that which is prescribed by your vet. Surgery is sometimes used as a treatment for arthritis, particularly in younger animals. You and your vet can determine if surgery is right for your pet. Acupuncture and massage are also becoming more common for treating arthritis in pets. If you massage your pet, make sure your vet shows you how to do it correctly so you don't hurt your pet. Otherwise, take him to a trained professional.
Diet and Supplements for Pet Arthritis
It is important to make sure your pet is not overweight. Carrying around more weight puts more strain on the joints. If your pet is overweight, put him on a light diet. If your pet is at a healthy weight, there are many options for foods that promote joint health. Look for ingredients and supplements such as:
- Vitamins and minerals
- Perna caniculus
Make Your Pet's Life a Little Easier
Make a few changes to allow your pet to feel more confident and move around more easily:
- Identify and eliminate high steps, slick floors and cold drafts
- Keep food dishes and litter boxes at a comfortable height
- Make floors less slippery with carpet or non-skid mats
- Make a ramp so your pet won't have to jump
Photo Credit: Artodin