Like humans, pets also experience wear and tear of their joints as the result of a degenerative disease known as osteoarthritis. In fact, osteoarthritis is one of the most common ailments in our household furry friends. This disease can be tricky for pet owners to diagnose because pets are not able to speak for themselves. This means an early diagnosis could be missed, prolonging stiffness, pain and loss of mobility.
The first symptoms pet owners usually recognize is a difference in how a pet behaves, as in:
- Loss of appetite – the pain can be so severe that food no longer sounds appealing
- Muscle weakness or atrophy – the affected leg looks thinner as the dog, or cat, no longer uses the leg enough to maintain its proper tone.
- Slower to get up – as pain increases, your pet might be slower to get up from a laying down position.
- Depression or lethargy – because of the pain, your pet might experience more isolation and/or sleep more.
- Biting or licking the area – sometimes, pets lick or bite a painful area.
If your pet appears to have osteoarthritis, seek medical attention immediately. You will also want to consider your pet’s current daily habits to see if you can do anything to alleviate his or her pain and symptoms of the disease, such as:
- Maintain proper pet weight – this will take stress off the affected areas
- Incorporate effective exercises – a modified exercise program will prevent more harm to joints.
- Engage in non-weightbearing exercises – swimming is a great exercise for pets with osteoarthritis.
As the disease progresses, anti-inflammatory medications and/or surgery might become part of your pet’s overall management program to alleviate some of the damaging effects of the disease. Some of the most common medications include: Metacam, Previcox, Deramaxx and more.
To properly diagnose the disease, a history of your dog or cat’s daily habits, that show signs of the disease, will be reviewed, followed by a full examination, including x-rays and laboratory tests.
Prevention, from the beginning, is key, including:
- A healthy diet
- Proper vitamins and supplements
- Appropriate exercises
- Avoid obesity
Osteoarthritis is progressive, so make sure to see a veterinarian the minute you see signs of the disease, so an effective maintenance program can be established. Dogs and cats can live a full and healthy life if proper attention is given to this debilitating disease.
At NorCal Vets, we specialize in osteoarthritis prevention, diagnosis, and maintained programs intended to help your furry friend live the fullest and most complete high-quality life possible.
Call Nor Cal Vet, today, at (415) 413-7363.