Winter is officially here in Southeastern Massachusetts, which means that there are many pets and their owners are suffering due to the cold weather from arthritis and joint pain. While there are many familiar treatments available for humans, many dogs, cats and other mammals often get overlooked when it comes to treatment of these conditions, simply because their owners don’t know what options are available. Cold weather can amplify arthritis and joint pain in animals, leading to symptoms that can range from a simple reduced interest in going outdoors or moving around the house to a more debilitating condition.
Joint Disease and Related Conditions
Some pets may develop a condition that leads to joint disease or pain when they are younger, however most won’t show signs of these issues until they are older. Depending on the breed, some animals are just more prone to joint disease and other related conditions than others. For example, dogs are more prone to arthritis than cats and larger breeds are even more susceptible than smaller breeds.
These conditions may be as a result of trauma or injury experienced in an accident, or as a result of degenerative disorders, bad breeding, infections or immune disorders. Pet owners should watch out for signs of joint disease and related conditions, such as limping, stiffness or even favoring a particular limb when walking. In many cases, this stiffness or favoring will occur most obviously after resting or sleeping and can make your pet reluctant to do things they once did regularly, such as climbing stairs, getting on furniture or not wanting to get up.
Joint Disease in Dogs
Dogs are much more vulnerable to joint disease and other related conditions than any other type of common house pet. In fact, there are ten distinct causes of joint disease that are most common in dogs that pet owners should be aware of, which include:
- bone fractures that involve the joint
- disease of the muscle, tendon or ligaments
- osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease
- inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Lyme disease
- degenerative spinal joint disease, such as cauda equina syndrome or invertabral
- congenital disorders, such as luxated patella or Wobbler’s syndrome
- developmental disorders, such as Legg-Perthes disease and hip or elbow dysplasia
- hormonal or dietary disease, such as obesity or hyperparathyroidism
Symptoms of Arthritis and Joint Pain in Dogs and Cats
Unfortunately our pets can’t tell us how they are feeling. As owners of Southeastern Massachusetts pets, especially in the cold winter months, we need to pay attention to changes in behavior that can indicate pain. Some symptoms are very subtle and many pet owners associate a cat or dog’s unwillingness to play or go outside as a sign of getting old, so they very frequently go unchecked.
Here are some signs to watch for in your pet:
- a slowness when your pet gets up from either a seated position or lying on the floor, particularly in the morning
- increased caution when using stairs or steps, either indoors or outdoors
- a subtle or persistent limp that may go away, but returns on occasion
- reluctance to jump up on a couch, bed or other once-favorite place
If you notice any of these signs in your pet, bring them in for a complete work-up with your vet at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. There are several different treatment options available to help with the pain and there are even things that you can do to help your pet feel more comfortable during the winter months. For those of us living in the New England states, there are adjustments that even we have to make during the winter season, so this is just part of living here and having Southeastern Massachusetts pets.
Available Arthritis and Joint Pain Treatment Options
There are actually lots of treatment options available for pets who are experiencing pain and movement issues with regard to arthritis and joint pain. Prescription medications are often the first and most frequently mode of treatment – in pets and people. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, otherwise known as NSAIDs, are usually tried initially and can be very effective in most cases. Other medications can also be prescribed if NSAIDs do not work or interfere with other treatments. Do not ever give your pet over the counter human medications. They come with many risks and serious side effects and, in most cases, are not as effective as pet-specific prescriptions.
In addition to prescription medications, your veterinarian may prescribe dietary supplements, such as glucosamine or chrondroitin sulfate, which are very popular arthritis and joint pain treatment options for people and pets. Once again, it is important to never give your pet over the counter medications designed for people unless you are told to do so by your trusted vet at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. Injections are another type of treatment given by some veterinarians, which come in a series of multi-shot visits to provide building blocks for damaged cartilage designed to slow-down degeneration.
Alternative Treatments Available at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth
While not all veterinary clinics provide alternative treatment options, there are a growing number of them that do. Veterinary acupuncture and laser treatments are being used to reduce pain and increase endorphin release in pets that suffer from arthritis or other types of joint disease and pain.
In many cases, veterinary acupuncture and laser treatments have been shown to eliminate or reduce the need for prescription medications, which often come with dangerous side-effects. Because it is a non-medication based treatment, veterinary acupuncture and laser treatments can be combined with other forms of treatments without concern for interactions or complications.
Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth offers veterinary acupuncture and laser treatments for Southeastern Massachusetts pets. Dr. Kate Pietsch is trained and licensed to perform these alternative treatment options, which are now used to treat a variety of different illnesses, diseases and conditions. These treatments can give your pet a new lease on life, allowing them to walk, run and play again with you and your family.