Arthritis in pets can be an invisible but incredibly painful condition.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Caring for a pet with arthritis takes understanding and patience, but with careful management and treatment, affected pets can still enjoy a good quality of life and stay happy and active into their golden years”.
Arthritis is more commonly diagnosed in older pets, in fact, some studies show up to 80 per cent of senior dogs may be affected by arthritis, although arthritis can affect pets of any age.
The condition is more likely to happen in pets born with abnormally shaped joints, in obese pets, or if an injury or infection has occurred in a joint, it is more likely that arthritis will develop.
Thankfully, there are pain relief treatments and lifestyle changes that can help pets continue to live a good quality of life.”
Signs and symptoms
Nina said: Signs of arthritis often include slowing down on walks and stiffness, which is usually noticed after pets have been resting. They might be struggling to get up on the sofa.
Pets with arthritis become less active and may prefer to curl up in their beds instead of going out for a walk or venturing outdoors as they can feel uncomfortable and miserable.
Cats and rabbits that are struggling to groom themselves properly can have coats that look dull or knotty and rabbits can get dirty bottoms, making them at risk of flystrike which can be fatal.
Nina adds: Other signs can include difficulty crouching to toilet – cats may start to miss their litter tray.
Although arthritis can’t be cured, it can often be well managed through pain relief medication and changes to a pet’s lifestyle to help your pet get around and feel more comfortable.
Changing to a specific weight loss support food can makes the process easier and ensures that your pet gets all the nutrients they need.
When it comes to exercise, each pet will need a tailored plan depending on how severe their arthritis is.
There are things you can watch out for, when taking your dog for a walk for example – watch how fast or slow they are, are they a bit wobbly or stumbling more easily.
Always give them opportunities to rest, finish the walk early if necessary and aim to walk on flat, even surfaces.
Your vet or vet nurse can build you an exercise and diet plan that is suitable for your pet.
Hydrotherapy and physiotherapy can also be helpful to improve mobility and relieve the pain associated with arthritis.
Ask your vet for a referral to an accredited professional.
Treatment and management
- Changes to your pet’s diet to keep them a healthy weight
- A tailored exercise plan
- Anti-inflammatory pain relief medication prescribed for your pet by their vet to reduce pain and inflammation
- Prescription diets or nutritional supplements that may improve joint function or reduce inflammation
- Hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and other complementary treatments, as advised by your vet
For more information visit pdsa.org.uk
Main Picture: Pixabay/Miller_Eszter
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