Creaky joints? We can help!

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Leeton Veterinary Hospital
41 Yanco Avenue
NSW 2705

02 6953 3111
02 6953 2793

These chilly nights are just perfect for getting out the ugg boots & the woolly jumpers and curling up under the doona to keep warm. The cooler mornings also make it harder to want to jump out of bed and it’s not just us. Our pets find the cooler months a challenge too, especially if they are older or have arthritis.

Our senior pets are often the most affected by arthritis but younger pets can also be affected, particularly if they have suffered an injury or are very active like race horses or working dogs. In fact, about 65% of dogs over the age of 7 years will suffer with some form of arthritis. With cats, about 60% over the age of 6 years have arthritis in at least one joint, this then increase to around 90% of cats over the age of 12 years old.

Arthritis can affect one or more joints anywhere in the body; however the most common joints affected are the shoulders, elbows, knees and hips. This can be caused by trauma, over use due to activity or age & also developmental problems such as hip or elbow dysplasia.

Often, our pets hide the fact that they are in pain. They don’t want to upset us of course or be left behind in the pack like they would in the wild. Some of the signs that they may show are; lameness or limping, difficulty getting up from a resting position, slowing down when playing or on walks, yelping in pain or licking at a sore area.

While there is no cure for arthritis, the pain and discomfort your pet feels can be controlled & managed.

Keeping our four legged friends warm, especially at night, is important. Ensure your pet has a firm, high density mattress or other bed which provides support, warmth and is free from droughts. It can also be helpful to ensure the bed is higher than ground level so that it is easier to step out of bed, rather than push themselves up from the bed. Also, consider investing in a nice plush pet jacket (or two), these can be easily washed and are great at keeping the chilly air at bay.

Prevent your dog from jumping. This means off stairs, balconies, furniture, the back of the car – also no jumping up onto these things either! While it can be hard if they have led an active life before, it is best for their long term joint health.

Slippery floors & arthritic joints don’t go together either. Using a non-slip matting or removing rugs that slip will be the best for your ageing pet. Keeping their nails short can help too. Long nails can get caught in bedding or carpet and long nails also make it harder to get grip on smooth flooring too.

Keeping movement in the joints is important. Without movement, they can “freeze up” and this can make the problem much worse.

Regular, gentle exercise is encouraged. Walking is a good exercise as long as long as it is a gentle, short walk and not a vigorous 10km hike!  Swimming and hydrotherapy is encouraged as the joints are moved with minimal pressure. However, we don't want these joints to be over exercised, so unfortunately the tennis ball may have to be retired.

Passive joint manipulation and massage can be very helpful. Our team here at the Leeton Veterinary Hospital can teach you these simple techniques.

Carrying a few extra kilos can exacerbate arthritis problems. Having your pet loose a couple kilos can make a great improvement in how they feel.

There are food products that have "pharmaceutical" effects.  Some products are food supplements and some are whole foods in themselves. These often contain extracts of Green Lipped Mussel, Shark Cartilage and in some cases, Epiitalis. These mimic the building blocks of the joint lining and thus improve joint function and can help to reduce inflammation over time. They can also contain ingredients such as glucosamine or chondroitin which also help with joint comfort.

There are many prescription medications available to manage arthritis pain. These can be either injections or oral medications. Discussing the options with your Veterinarian is the best way to find out what medication will best suit your pet.

Ultimately, a visit to a Veterinarian so that your pet can be assessed for the degree of arthritis they have & to receive a targeted therapeutic course is the best course of action for your beloved pet.

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