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Posted on 02-04-2016
As your pet ages, their joints can develop arthritis. Arthritis is caused by many factors including congenital poor bone alignment, obesity, being a large/giant breed dog, previous injury/surgery and age. In an arthritic joint, there is damage and loss of the cushioning cartilage and new bone growth and scar tissue develops along the margins of the joint. Due to inflammation, the joint swells with fluid. All these changes lead to decrease in function of that limb/joint and increased pain. This can manifest in your pet in a variety of ways including difficulty rising from lying down, maintaining the normal position for defecation/urination, using stairs, or running/jumping. Decreased interest in walks, limping and decreased muscle mass in the affected leg can also be observed.
While arthritis is a degenerative process that we cannot cure, there are many things we can do to prevent it and slow its progression. It is important to keep your pet at an ideal body weight as extra weight burdens your pet’s joints and leads to premature arthritis. Regular exercise will help maintain your pet’s muscles which play an important role in joint support. There is evidence to suggest that delaying neuter from the typical age of 6 months to 12-18 months in large/giant breed male dogs can have a beneficial effect on long term joint health.
Arthritis is diagnosed by a combination of signs observed by the owner, our physical exam of your pet and radiographs. Once we have diagnosed arthritis in your pet, there are several options to consider in addition to those already mentioned. For mild arthritis, we use supplements that help to slow the progression of arthritis by promoting a healthy joint environment. Supplements come in a variety of forms including joint diets with Omega Fatty Acids or Green-lipped Mussel. There are oral supplements including Glucosamine and Chondroitin and there is an injectable supplement called Cartrophen. For moderate to severe arthritis, we use medications designed to relieve pain and inflammation. If your pet is showing signs of arthritis, please contact us to arrange an appointment so we can get them moving better.
Dr John Booth
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