How to Tell If Your Aging Pet Has Arthritis

Avian, By Species, By Topic, Care & Wellness, Cats, Dogs, Exotic

Time takes a toll on us all. The same is true for our animal companions. As our pets age, they begin to suffer from a variety of common maladies: osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, kidney failure, glaucoma, cataracts, and dementia.

Amongst these ailments, osteoarthritis is by far the most common age-related disease I see in pets. Osteoarthritis affects all animals but especially cats, dogs, and birds. It is a painful disease that worsens with age and can be very difficult to treat. The first thing I tell owners about osteoarthritis is that we can prevent or at least decrease the severity of osteoarthritis by taking a few simple steps. Arguably the most important step to take is weight control. Obesity increases the strain on joints and can speed up the onset of osteoarthritis. Obese animals will also feel the effects of arthritis more severely than ideal weight and underweight animals.

Weight control is often as simple as portion control for many of our pets. Daily caloric requirements often decrease with age so what was an appropriate diet for your animal at 2 years of age may be an oversized portion when that pet is 7. Discuss with your veterinarian any changes in weight your animal may be experiencing. We may be able to help you reformulate an appropriate diet based on your animal’s specific needs.

The next step for osteoarthritis prevention is joint supplementation. Studies have shown that dietary supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids and chondroitin, can help keep joints healthy and prevent the onset of arthritis.

No matter what preventative steps that you take, some risk factors are unavoidable. Joint injuries and fractures predispose animals to arthritis as does age and genetics. Extremely active lifestyles can also increase your animal’s likelihood of developing arthritis. Since arthritis is unavoidable in some individuals, diagnosis and treatment are very important.

If your animal is slow to rise, has difficulty standing, climbing stairs or limps when it walks, it may have osteoarthritis. If diagnosed early, we can use medications to decrease or eliminate the pain associated with joint disease. Arthritis can hurt our pets just as much as it can hurt us; there is no reason that they should have to suffer without hope of relief.

If your pet is showing signs of joint pain/arthritis please bring it to CEDARCREST Animal Clinic as soon as possible. Call 540-943-7577, and we may be able to offer it some relief.

CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia's most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you're away. We're located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. 

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