You Be the Vet - Creaky, Painful Joints
The other month we talked about how to spot the signs of arthritis in your cat. But what about your dog?
Last month we talked about how to spot the signs of arthritis in your cat. But what about your dog?
Are They Slowing Down?
When you’re a vet, your examination of the animal begins the moment you walk out to greet them and their owner. Are they slow to stand up, or reluctant to stand up at all? Maybe they are no longer asking to go for a walk? Cats with arthritis are often far more sensible than dogs, so rather than racing around like they used to and then finding they’re sore they will often start to spend a lot of time sitting still, and is often put down to “just getting old” rather than being recognised as a problem that can be managed
Have They Changed The Way They Walk?
Watch your pet as they walk around. Do they walk with a limp? This can be as subtle as keeping one foot on the ground a split second longer than the other, or as obvious as holding the sore leg off the ground. Also look for the length of the step they take with each foot. Is one step shorter than the others? This can also be quite difficult to see.
Do They Have Difficulty Standing Up?
This may be more noticeable after they have been resting for a while, or first thing in the morning. Is standing up now a process? First the front legs, then swing forward and slooowwwlllyyy push up with the back legs. Each animal has their own process depending on which joint is sore.
Are They Starting to Get Lazy?
Do they ask to be lifted up onto the couch when they used to just jump up themselves? Maybe they’re now avoiding higher surfaces completely? If they were very good at “sit” before, they may now be more reluctant to obey the command. These behaviours are often seen as being lazy or disobedient, when actually they are just trying to avoid actions that now cause them pain.
Do Their Bones Rattle and Click When They Move?
Does it sound like a group of clanking skeletons have walked into the room when they move? Arthritis means that the surface inside the joint isn’t as smooth as it should be and the lubrication inside the joint isn’t enough to stop the two bones from grinding together. This sometimes makes a noise that you can hear.
What Can We Do About It?
There are 4 components to caring for dogs with arthritis: weight control, exercise in moderation, diet, and medical therapy.
This means keeping our pets at their optimal weight – not too fat, not too skinny. Too fat means excess weight on already painful joints, making it even harder to move around. Too skinny means undernourished pets, which has its own set of health problems.
It’s important for animals with arthritis to keep moving – if you don’t use it you lose it! However they’re not going to be running marathons. A short walk around the block twice a day might be plenty. If you find they are only sore after a walk, then try making the walk a bit shorter until you find a level of exercise that works for them. Remember – cats can be trained to walk on a harness and leash too!
Just like in humans, there are dietary supplements that are available. Glyde contains the building blocks for the cartilage in the joint to help smooth the surface and also reduce inflammation. It can be given as a treat, or as a powder that is sprinkled over their food.
Our pets often get to a point where weight control, moderate exercise and dietary changes are not enough alone to control their arthritis. If this is true for your pet, there’s no need for them to suffer! Come in and have a chat with us and we’ll be able to put together a therapeutic plan individually tailored for your pet!