Dr. Adam Calcutt of TVV Decatur reports...
Affecting nearly 52.5 million people in the US alone, arthritis is something that many of us can relate to. Maybe you are even affected or know somebody that is. It might surprise you to learn that, along with humans, a large percentage of our pet population also suffers from this degenerative disease. Arthritis affects one in five dogs and is also recognized as a disease of geriatric cats. This condition can affect all breeds including mixed breeds.
Arthritis describes a degenerative inflammatory process affecting a joint. Many terms are used to describe these types of changes: arthritis, osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease (DJD). All describe a pattern of symptoms caused when smooth protective cartilage covering the bone is lost, worn or damaged. This results in exposure and painful erosion of bone. Common signs of arthritis are associated with pain, stiffness and swelling of the affected joint. This degenerative disease can occur as a result of infection, trauma, obesity, aging and most commonly genetic predisposition such as hip dysplasia. Some of these, such as obesity, can be controlled while others, such as genetic predisposition, cannot.
Arthritis is a chronic disease, and as severe as changes can be, signs that your pet is suffering are often subtle. Even though you have watched and cared for your pet everyday of its life these signs often do not arise until later in life and can be easily missed since often the earliest signs are behavioral. Cats may begin to demonstrate a decrease in grooming, litter box aversion, decreased jumping and play behavior due to discomfort. They can also experience a decrease in appetite and weight loss.
Dogs with arthritis commonly experience lameness and stiffness. You might notice that your dog limps following a walk or moderate exercise, or is slow to rise after a nap.? Often both dogs and cats exhibit irritability and behavioral changes as a result of decreased range of motion, decreased flexibility and pain upon movement of the joints.
If you believe that your pet is suffering from arthritis, it is important to visit with your veterinarian who will perform a physical exam and offer various diagnostics including X-rays and specific laboratory tests. These tests will help to confirm a diagnosis of arthritis and identify possible causes. It is important, though, to realize that once arthritis is present and diagnosed there is no cure. There are, however, effective therapies and treatments that will help with management of your pet’s arthritis and improve the quality of life.?
Treatment of arthritis often includes both pain management and prevention of further joint damage. This typically requires multiple therapies used in conjunction, such as pain medication, physical therapy, laser therapy and supplements to repair joint cartilage.. Changes in lifestyle including weight loss, improved nutrition and modification of exercise regimes are often recommended. You can also make changes at home to accommodate a pet with arthritis. Please speak with your veterinarian to determine the best course of care if you suspect that he or she has arthritis.
Dr. Adam Calcutt. TVV Decatur