Noticed your cat or dog getting a little slower as the winter months creep in? Noticed any stiffness, slowness, not interested in running or jumping, endless sleeping? Nadia Crighton takes a look at arthritis and the reasons why pet owners need to be diligent.
I’ve been a dog and cat owner my whole life. Growing up beside numerous large dogs I’ve had may share of watching arthritis debilitate a happy senior dog, and cat, on more than one occasion. At one point the medication was almost worst than the problem…I remember clearly thinking that once the dog went on the pain-relief it was only a matter of time until the grim-reaper came knocking.
It’s absolute madness that now as a fully-grown and greying human that I’ve taken this into account with my recent aging pup. With all of the experience and knowledge I have (and working closely in the industry), admittedly I just brushed off the symptoms of arthritis and popped the label ‘he’s just getting old’ on many of my beloved dogs habits. Stiffness in the morning, a reluctance to get off his bed, the slight groaning when he finally laid down and the loss of energy.
We’ll lets face it, as we all age isn’t this how we feel…or think we should feel as we hit our senior years? My dog is nearly 11…surely he shouldn’t be springing about like a puppy? He’s the perfect weight, he enjoys a top quality diet and besides the groaning he’s 100% healthy.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until l he started to yelp when jumping down from a chair that I decided he needed to see the vet. As a farm dog he’s been running around for the best part of his life, chasing birds, mice and even the odd chook. That trip to the vet was faced with dread…I was honestly preparing myself for the notion that perhaps we only had another year, tops, with our dog.
At the vet, he was examined…to my astonishment it was not his back legs causing him grief it was actually his back. Bronson had server arthritis in his back. I braced myself…we spoke about medication…and I asked (while swallowing tears, with a HUGE lump in my throat). “Honestly Doc, being on these meds, how much longer do we have with him?”
The response brought and instant smile to my face…YEARS! Bronson could live happily for the remainder of his natural life on these tablets with minimal side effects. Better yet; if we saw dramatic results after a few weeks we could have a blood test and be given a course of medication that only require one tablet every MONTH!
The improvement in my ‘senior’ dog within two weeks was simply incredible! Today he is an energetic, happy, bouncing German Shorthaired Pointer who loves to chase rabbits, bark at birds, planes, helicopters and anything else that takes to flight. Even the children have noticed how happy he is. His tail wags constantly and his quality of life is incomparable to six months ago.
So what’s the moral of the story? GO SPEAK TO YOUR VET. Arthritis is not a death sentence. It is 100% treatable and YES your dog or cat might be getting old, but they do no have to do it in pain. The pain medication improves the quality of life substantially so your dog can enjoy life as a golden oldie. Alongside a good diet, sensible exercise, and alternative treatments you can really make a huge improvement to your dog’s quality of life.
What is arthritis?
It’s the wear and tear of the joints as your animal ages. There are other forms of arthritis that can also affect younger pets. But the most common is caused by old age and use. As dogs and cats get older the cartilage surfaces of their joints begin to thin and the cartilage cells die. This causes inflation and discomfort in the joint.
• Sore stiff joints
• Reluctance to run or jump
• Pain in the joint when moving or jumping
• Constant licking of the joints
• Groaning, yelping when moving
• Groaning when lying down
• Prescribed arthritic pain relief
• Comfortable supportive bedding – trampoline beds are great
• Limit your animals jumping from high areas to stop the degeneration of the joints
• Good diet
• Keeping your animal at the correct weight
• Holistic and complementary supplements and treatments