Like people, many pets who have arthritis experience greater discomfort in the colder months of the year.
Arthritic pain can affect our pets in different ways. Pets will rarely vocalise their pain. However, difficulty rising, obvious lameness or a stiff gait, muscle loss, reluctance to exercise, uncharacteristic accidents in the house, changes in posture, temperament, or sleeping patterns or other behavioral changes, may be a sign that your pet is having trouble with arthritis. Sadly, whilst arthritis is more common in our older pets, it is something that we see in younger pets too.
If you are concerned that your pet has arthritis, make an appointment to see your veterinarian. A thorough physical examination, manipulation and palpation of joints and lameness assessment together with your pet’s history can help your vet find the underlying reason for your pet’s discomfort and devise an appropriate management plan.
Depending on their findings, your veterinarian may recommend radiographs to rule out any underlying orthopaedic conditions. Cruciate disease, spinal conditions and various bone abnormalities can result in symptoms that mimic those typically associated with ‘a bit of arthritis.’
Often a blood test is also recommended as part of a general health check. We know that behavioural changes and reduced activity attributed to old age or arthritis, are sometimes actually the result of a heart condition, an endocrine condition such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s Disease or some other infectious or metabolic disease.
A blood test will not only check for any of the diseases outlined above, it will also assess kidney function. Healthy kidneys are an important consideration should your pet require anti-inflammatories to manage arthritic pain.
If it turns out that your pet has arthritis, all of the information gathered will enable your vet to tailor a personalised and safe arthritis treatment and management plan for your pet. The plan may include recommendations for weight loss, a modified exercise program, anti-inflammatories, joint supplements or other nutraceuticals, lifestyle changes or possibly even surgery depending on your pet’s health status and current stage of life. Furthermore, your veterinarian will offer ongoing support to help you keep your pet comfortable.
Together with your veterinarian, you can implement a safe and effective arthritis management plan to ensure that your pet is as active and as pain free as possible throughout Ballarat’s infamous Winter months!
This information has been brought to you by the
Lucas Veterinary Clinic
9 Merz Street
PH: 5303 9000