Just recently it is as though the One Upstairs suddenly flicked a switch; the heating went off and the rain and the wind started up. Instantly it felt like winter! Most of us grumble a bit and pull on an extra jumper but for some of our senior pets, the turn in the weather spells the beginning of a less comfortable time as aching joints begin to flare up in colder weather. Pets with arthritis suffer when the weather turns a bit miserable.
Arthritis can be a painful and debilitating disease and unfortunately it is a common complaint in our senior cats and dogs. If you think your dog or your cat does have arthritis don’t despair, there are many different treatment options available. Unfortunately there is no cure for this type of arthritis. Treatment is based mainly on prevention and in management of the pain and inflammation.
Read on to hear how Polly has been managed over the years to improve her quality of life living with chronic arthritis.
Polly is a 13 year old Labrador cross who was adopted by Jan & Peter from a dog’s home 6 years ago. She had previously lived with 3 different owners but has finally found her forever home. She is a beautiful gentle dog who loves cuddles and rolling on her back in the grass. Her absolute favourite thing to do is madly gallop into the ocean and swim in circles. As Polly grew older, her mum noticed she was stiff when getting up and was slowing down on walks. After a run on the beach and a swim she was lame in one of her back legs.
Polly was diagnosed with arthritis from degenerative cruciate ligament disease. Like all Labradors, Polly lives for her next meal and as she was doing less exercise, she was slowly getting heavier and heavier! We changed Polly’s food to a raw diet naturally high in protein and low in starch to help with losing and maintaining a lean body weight. We also added in Wellbeing Essentials for a wholefood source of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, omega fatty acids, phytonutrients and pre and probiotics, which have been shown to help in degenerative joint disease.
Polly was also given a course of injections (Synovan) as a joint protectant, and started on a Turmeric & Boswellia supplement for its natural anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and pain relieving effects. As time went on Polly started to struggle in her home on the slippery wooden floorboards and steep steps. We used “Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips” to help reduce slipping on the floors and also had a non-slip runner put in her house from her food bowl to her bed. Her mum tries to reduce the number of times Polly goes up and down the stairs, which is difficult as she is on the never-ending search for pats and cuddles!
Polly also has regular acupuncture and trigger point therapy sessions and we are careful with her exercise. Exercise is very important to maintain the muscle bulk and strength, but choosing low impact exercise on firm flat ground can be helpful. Swimming is wonderful as long as care is taken with getting in and out of the water – running and turning on soft sand can exacerbate arthritis and cruciate ligament problems.
Over the last few years the arthritis has inevitably progressed. We have added in some pain relieving medications (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and adjunctive pain relief) to keep Polly comfortable and active. The combination of physical, nutritional and medical treatment has kept Polly happy and active for all this time. So at 13 years of age Polly can still enjoy a walk and a swim at her favourite beach. Honestly just look at that smile!
So Polly’s story has shown how we as Vets and you as owners can help manage arthritis in your older pet. Keep reading below for more detailed advice on the steps you can take to help your manage your pets arthritis.
Reducing your pet’s weight to normal or even lean will have a profound effect on the improvement in pain. This has been shown in clinical studies to provide a better level of pain relief than expensive medications! Restricting your pet’s calories and feeding a higher protein and low starch diet will naturally help their weight. We can help your pet lose weight – just ask us!
There are so many nutritional supplements being actively marketed to reduce inflammation of the joints currently that you could fill a shopping bag with everything on offer. The supplements with sound clinical backing and what we use in our clinic include; Glucosamine and chondroitin combinations, green lipped muscle, Omega 3 oils (fish oil), Turmeric and Boswellia, Chinese herbs.
Putting non-slip matting in high traffic areas of the house, Dr Buzby’s toe grips (so simple and so brilliant!), modifying furniture to discourage jumping up and down or trying to avoid stairs.
Acupuncture, Trigger Point Muscle Therapy, Physiotherapy, Massage or Myotherapy.
Traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (Carprofen, Meloxicam), Gabapentin, Amantadine, Tramadol, Fentanyl. These all act to reduce pain. Pentosan injections (Synovan, Zydax) act to improve cartilage health and joint lubrication.
There is no single treatment that fits all pets. An individually tailored treatment program for you and your pet often leads to the best outcomes. At Bentons Road Vet Clinic we aim to reduce reliance on pharmaceuticals with nutritional, weight and physical therapies for as long as we can. However if pharmaceuticals are required we have found that combining these medications with preventative measures keeps pets happy and pain free for many years.
We also have vets trained in acupuncture and trigger point therapy. We can also refer to an animal physiotherapist if needed. For the best advice on managing arthritis, please make an appointment to come and talk to us.