Does this winter weather have you feeling stiff and lethargic? Your senior pets may feel the same way! General slowing down and decreased activity in older dogs and cats can be an indication of pain from osteoarthritis. While aging is an inevitable part of life, pain and discomfort do not have to be.
Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is a progressive and irreversible condition that results from loss of joint space, bony growths within the joint, and thickening of surrounding connective tissue. DJD can occur after an injury or predisposition, or due to old age after years of wear and tear on the joints. DJD affects both dogs and cats.
Multimodal treatment is the best way to manage your pet’s OA.
Dietary management: If your pet is overweight, it is beneficial to start a weight loss program. Additionally, there are multiple supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate that can be added to the diet to promote healthy joints. Dog and cat specific supplements are available.
Exercise: regular controlled exercise, generally in the form of leash walking is recommended for both weight control and musculoskeletal health.
Pain management is critical for the arthritic patient. Medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are very effective for this condition because they both reduce inflammation in the joints while also providing pain relief. There are multiple options in terms of medical therapy depending on your pet’s needs and any co-existing medical conditions. It is important to work with your veterinarian and regularly monitor internal organ function (through bloodwork) while on any long term medication. Remember NEVER give human medication to pets; it can actually harm your pet, rather than help.
Rehabilitation therapy: physical therapy exercises, laser therapy, and acupuncture are non-pharmaceutical modalities to reduce pain and inflammation secondary to DJD, to build strength, and to promote joint health. Rehabilitation exercises can be incorporated into a daily routine at home or regular sessions can be scheduled at Princeton Animal Hospital.
Please contact us at 609-520-2000 or visit our website to learn more about which pain management options will work best for your senior pet. Our goal is to keep your dogs and cats comfortable in their senior years!