Arthritis In Pets
One of the things that really frustrates me as a vet & an animal lover, is when people bring me their pet to be put to sleep when the pet has been suffering for months previously, & if the person had brought their pet to me much earlier, most of the suffering could have been prevented, and also in many cases, if the pet had been treated for the previous few months, the pet would not have needed to be put to sleep if treated when the animal first started suffering. One of the most common conditions like this is with dogs and cats with arthritis.
Arthritis in middle aged & elderly pets is quite common & cause pain &/or discomfort, sometimes for months and years. Most of this pain or discomfort can be treated to keep your pet comfortable.
Osteo-arthritis is the type of arthritis pets get most commonly. This involves inflammation of the joints, with degeneration of the cartilage inside the joints. Inside the joint is synovial fluid, this is an oily fluid which helps lubricate the joint. This inflammation inside the joint causes this fluid to become less oily & this makes the problem worse. The degeneration of the inside of the joints, with inflammation, results in pain & stiffness.
Osteo-arthritis is usually as a result of a life time of wear & tear but can also result from damage to a joint or if the joint is malformed, such as with hip dysplasia. We now have quite a few different ways we can treat arthritis. Weight loss can help a lot if your pet is overweight. There is a course of injections with a drug called Pentosan, which involves four injections at 5-7 days apart. This helps to make the synovial fluid oilier again & can help to repair some of the damaged cartilage inside the joint, usually resulting in rapid improvement the use of the affected joint & in less pain from this joint. Anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDS) can be used. These reduce inflammation inside the joint making it less painful. This can also help make the synovial fluid oilier again which also helps. Many of the modern NSAIDS used by your vet are exceptionally safe. One such tablet was given to a group of dogs at eight times the normal dose for a year. These dogs where checked by vets & blood tested regularly in the year, with no problems found as a result of this medication. One of our patients at Airedale Vets, once eight 50 tablets after chewing the bottle (it should have been given one tablet a day) & that dog seemed perfectly OK. Also the cost of many of these medicines are substantionally lower than they were ten years ago.
Unfortunately there is no evidence that chondroitin nor glucosamine help in dogs nor cat.
So if you think your dog or cat is showing signs of arthritis contact your vet to make an appointment.