When your pet starts to slow down it can be due to an underlying health issue. Today, the Pet Doctor vets discuss arthritis in pets and how you can help.
About Arthritis in Pets
The bones are protected by a layer of cartilage and over time, wear and tear damage the cartilage, and the bone-to-bone friction causes inflammation and pain. The onset of inflammation brings forth further cartilage destruction and may eventually cause changes to the underlying bone structure.
Although it is a disease that is usually associated with aging, a traumatic event to a joint can cause younger animals to develop arthritis earlier. Dogs participating in high-impact activities, or obese animals are also more prone to early arthritis as the joints are subjected to higher impact.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Reluctance to walk
- Stiff in the morning or getting up, but gets better as they walk around
- Takes a prolonged time to lie down
- Increased effort climbing stairs and getting in the bed or car
- Licking at a joint
- Reluctance to be touched/petted
- Reduced level of activity
Arthritic pets should continue to have low-impact and supervised exercises to prevent weight gain which may further stress the joints. For dogs, swimming is an excellent activity. Frequent short walks on soft ground are better than one long walk per day.
If overweight, weight loss is the first and most important step. Start a discussion with your veterinarian to assess your pet’s body condition and how to achieve the ideal weight. Blood work can be done to rule out conditions that may predispose an animal to gain weight.