Managing Your Pet's Arthritis

Image of an old dog on a dog bed.

Years of running, jumping and walking take a toll on your pet's joints. When your once energetic cat or dog starts to slows down or appears to be in pain, osteoarthritis may be to blame. The disease wears down the cartilage in the joints, causing bones to rub together painfully. Although there's no way to reverse arthritis, you can do a few things to make your furry friend's life more comfortable.

Arthritis Signs

Arthritis signs are often subtle and can be confused with general behavioral changes associated with aging. Pets may show little interest in playing, even though a rousing game of fetch was once a favorite daily activity. When it hurts to stand up or lie down, it's not surprising that your dog or cat may move as little as possible during the day. Sleeping or resting more may be an indication that your pet suffers from painful, stiff joints.

Other signs of arthritis may include weight gain, limping, poor grooming in cats, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, or licking or biting the skin over a sore joint. Walking and moving requires more energy when your joints don't work as well as they once did. If your pet has arthritis, you may notice that he or she tires faster than usual or isn't eager to join you on your nightly walk.

Because other health conditions may share some of the same signs as arthritis, it's important to receive a diagnosis from your pet's veterinarian before you treat your dog or cat's condition at home.

Try These Tips to Improve Your Pet's Comfort

Adopting these strategies can reduce pain and strain on joints and muscles:

  • Go Soft. Provide soft resting places that offer plenty of cushioning and prevent exposure to cold drafts. Even pets that once enjoyed lying on the hard floor will appreciate a soft bed if they develop arthritis.
  • Buy a Ramp. Ramps of varying sizes can help your dog or cat navigate your home. Install a large ramp over the steps leading into your home to make it easier for your pet to access your yard. Buy smaller ramps and place them next to your pet's favorite chair or your bed (if your pet sleeps with you).
  • Make a Few Changes. Look for ways to make your pet's life easier. If your cat has difficulty climbing into the litter box, buy a box with lower edges or cut out a section of the existing box. Raising eating and drinking dishes can make mealtime easier for some pets with arthritis.
  • Encourage Exercise. Although your pet may be reluctant to exercise, moving can help reduce joint stiffness. You may need to make some adaptations to your pet's usual exercise routine, such as substituting short walks for agility training. Swimming is an excellent source of exercise for dogs because it doesn't stress the joints.
  • Become a Masseuse. Gently massage the muscles surrounding your pet's joints to help relieve pain and stiffness and improve range of motion. If your pet yelps or complains during a massage, use a softer touch or concentrate on a less sensitive area of the body.
  • Help Your Pet Lose Weight. It's harder to exercise when you're in pain. Unfortunately, if your pet doesn't exercise, he or she will gain weight, which can worsen arthritis symptoms. According to a study published in the February 2010 issue of Veterinary Research Communications, a 6 percent or higher weight loss significantly decreased lameness in dogs with osteoarthritis. In addition to exercise, switching to a senior diet may help your pet lose weight.
  • Consider Supplements. Glucosamine and chondroitrin, the same supplements people use, may also be helpful in treating arthritis in pets. Before you give your pet any supplement or over-the-counter medication, consult a veterinarian. Some supplements or medications that are safe for people can harm pets.
  • Talk to Your Pet's Veterinarian. Your pet's veterinarian can provide treatment and advice that will help relieve pain and improve mobility. If your dog or cat seems to be in pain, the vet may prescribe pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications that can improve your pet's quality of life.

Regular veterinary care and a little extra TLC from you will make your arthritic pet's life easier. Call us today to schedule an appointment for your furry friend.

Sources:

PetMD: Arthritis: How to Recognize and Manage the Condition

http://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/evr_dg_arthritis_how_to_recognize_and_manage_the_condition?page=show

Veterinary Research Communications: The Effect of Weight Loss on Lameness in Obese Dogs with Osteoarthritis, 2/10

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855019/

Location

Find us on the map

Monday:

8:30 am-8:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

8:45 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Feedback from our clients

  • "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the care you had given Hunter over the years. When his time came, he watched for you to come through the door and his tail showed his affection towards you. That was most comforting having you there. Thank you.""
    ~R.H
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Maggie over the years. Y'all are the best and Dr. Johnson, you are the best vet in the world! God bless you all.""
    ~ J.D.
  • ""Your care for my beloved Mattie these last 10n years made her life, and mine much better….God bless each of you for all you did for us and I'm sure for all your other two and four legged patients.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""Thank you for saving my life." ~T.C."
    ~T.C.
  • ""I can not express how grateful I am for you and your staff… I appreciate everything you did in Beckham's treatment. He was so lucky to have such a wonderful doctor on his side. Thank you for all you do for the benefit of all our beloved pets.""
    ~L.B.
  • ""Dr. Johnson - There are no words that can truly capture your kindness.""
    ~G.B.
  • ""Thank you for the great care you took of Taco and the rest of our family. He is doing great now! He is enjoying running and playing with all four legs again.""
    ~W.C
  • ""People who avail themselves of your services at the clinic certainly are blessed to have such a caring staff....bless you and your devoted staff.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""A sincere thank you for taking such good care of Dulce. We are so thrilled that she is back to her normal self. You gave her the support and care she needed in her darkest hours and kept us confident in her recovery.""
  • ""Just to say how much we appreciate all of you. You all are wonderful people. We feel blessed to have our beloved furry children in your care when they need it. Your professional knowledge and your acts of kindness have a beautiful act all it's own. You are a great vet, compassionate and everything good all in one. You are in our daily prayers.""
    ~T.F.
  • ""Thank you and all of your staff for the excellent care you gave to my wonderful Abbey, who was so much a part of the family. Thank you for all the advice and support you gave to me these last few months. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without your constant support. I will, and I have highly recommended you to family and friends, as I feel you are the best!""
    ~P.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking care of my kitty, Slingshot. He is feeling better and better. My Paw-Paw said that you took extra special care of him and I really appreciate it. So, thank you again for taking care of my cat.""
    ~T.B. (age 6)
  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
    ~C.W.
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Lola when she had her reaction, and your office was already closed. I know you took time away from yourself and your family and I really appreciate it.""
    ~R.M.
  • ""Thank you for giving me more time with my best friend. We are all so grateful.""
    ~A.M.
  • ""Thank you for all of your support for Maxine during her illness. All was very much appreciated and will always be remembered. I have related to all my friends of what a great doctor and staff at Birdneck Animal Hospital.""
    ~O.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking such good care of me over the last 4 years. I am doing well and both legs and feet feel great. You sis an awesome job on me Dr. Johnson, and I'm gonna have a great year this year and I hope to see you only for my check up. You guys are the best!""
    ~Budkus
  • "We can't thank you enough for the wonderful and loving care you gave to"Budkus" while he was in your care. He was so little and so sick and we were so scared for him. Each and every one of the staff members made us feel like we had the only dog in the world. Like nothing else mattered except getting "Budkus" well again. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for the excellent care and attention we received, for your encouragement, comfort, and understanding, and most importantly for saving his life! Thank you so much.""
    ~ J.,B.,C.