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Arthritis – Not Just an Older Pet Problem
The cooler weather will undoubtedly see many pets across Australia becoming diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. It’s this time of year that pet owners need to be diligent with monitoring their pet’s behaviour and possible symptoms.
“It’s that time of year again when Osteoarthritis conditions start to become more obvious to pet owners,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “Even the slightest change in behaviour or activity warrants a veterinary check to guarantee that your pet is not in pain.”
One of the biggest misconceptions about Osteoarthritis is age.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Crighton says. “We see a large number of claims for pets under the age of eight in regard to arthritis.”
Dr Magdoline Awad, Chief Veterinary Officer at PetSure, agrees.
“Twenty percent of all adult dogs suffer from OA (osteoarthritis) and about 80% of geriatric dogs do. This is obviously a welfare issue as it is a source of pain and discomfort,” Dr. Awad says. “It isn’t just an ‘older dog’ issue. Any dog can get OA. Any size dog can get OA, and any breed.”
Many dogs will present symptoms before one year of age, for these dogs it is vital that they are quickly managed.
“It is essential to get these dogs managed early on as OA is a chronic, irreversible disease and whilst slowly progressing, is able to be managed better if treated early on,” Dr Awad says.
- Sore stiff joints
- Limping / lameness
- Reluctance to run or jump
- Pain in the joint when moving or jumping
- Difficultly getting up
- Muscle wastage
- Sleeping more, lethargic
- Groaning, yelping when moving
“You may also notice that your feline friend can no longer groom themselves in hard to reach areas like the top of the back, or they simply do not like hanging out on the top perch of the cat scratcher anymore” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “Having litter mishaps is also common symptom that your pet could be suffering from arthritic pain and in need of veterinary treatment.”
Arthritis Treatment For Dogs in Australia
The great news is; animals suffering from osteoarthritis now have access to some revolutionary products and that are easy to administer and can restore your pet to their pain-free self.
“However, it is important to note that treatment needs to be sort quickly so that your vet can get your pet onto a management plan that may include medication, supplements and diet,” Crighton says.
Dr Awad also notes that it can be a fine line with treating older pets with additional problems.
“OA can be challenging to manage as many older dogs and cats suffer from chronic kidney and liver conditions or other diseases,” Dr Awad says. “There is a fine balance between managing pain, inflammation and potential side-effects so monitoring of these drugs under veterinary supervision is crucial.”
When managed correctly dogs and cats suffering from arthritis can lead happy and relatively pain free lives.
TOP TIPS FOR PETS WITH ARTHRITIS
- Keep pets moving! – Just because your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis does not mean the need to stop exercising. Ask your vet about the correct amount of exercise for your pet but keep those joints moving. Consider swimming and walking. Low impact exercise is great for pets with arthritis.
- Correct Weight – Ensure your pet is not overweight or obese. Being overweight adds strain to sore joints. Keeping at the correct weight is very important for arthritis management. Many owners do not know the correct weight range for their pet. Knowledge is key.
- Diet – Feed your pet a well-balanced, age appropriate diet at the correct amount. Don’t forget to remove the ‘treat’ portion from this amount.
- Comfort – supply a good supportive bed for dogs, and warm places to curl up for cats. All pets need a warm, weather-proof areas with ample shelter, warmth, away from direct rain/wind.