Did you know that 65% of dogs over the age of 7 and 90% of cats over the age of 10 have arthritis?
Like in humans, this painful joint condition gets worse with the cold so is more prevalent in the winter months. So, how can we help our furry friends with arthritis?
- Lose the weight: Not only does extra weight place more strain on the joints but fat cells produce substances that make inflammation worse and arthritis is an inflammatory disease.
- Maintain moderate exercise: Stopping all exercise means pets tend to put on weight but they also lose muscle mass. Too much or high-intensity exercise however can often leave them sore.
- Medication: By the time most animals start showing the signs of arthritis they are already stiff and sore. Anti-inflammatory pain relief prescribed by your vet helps to relieve the pain.
- Supplements: Omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, glycosaminoglycans and turmeric are some of the more common ones. However, not all products are created equal and it is best to discuss with a vet what is recommended.
- Joint diets: These include the Royal Canin mobility diet and Hills J/D which contain compounds shown to help in arthritis.
- Keep those joints warm: Heat packs, a warm coat and a warm comfy bed can all help ease the discomfort a little.
- Alternative therapies: Physiotherapy, laser therapy (now available at Franklin Vets Papakura), acupuncture, hydrotherapy and massage can help also.
- Environmental modification: Ramps into the car, stairs to help get on the bed, and low-sided litter trays can make it easier for older animals to not have to jump.
- Grooming: Arthritis can make it harder for animals to keep their coat maintained, particularly in the case of cats, so brushing them regularly will help keep their coat tidy and knot-free.
Dr Nikki Frost BSc BVSc MANZCVS (Medicine of Cats)