“Mobility”: the ability to move or be moved freely and easily
When you watch your pet (dog or cat), can they move freely and comfortably? Or do they seem slow and stiff? If your answer is the latter, your pet is likely suffering from degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis, commonly referred to as arthritis. Up to 70% of dogs and 61% of cats are affected with degenerative joint disease in the United States!
Many owners assume that this “slowing down” is simply due to age. However, it actually can be due to chronic joint pain from degenerative joint disease (DJD). Because DJD most commonly progresses slowly, dogs (and cats!) initially adapt in ways that their owners do not even notice. This isn’t your fault- pet owners aren’t trained to identify pain in their animals like veterinarians are.
DJD is due to a breakdown of articular cartilage within the joint. This deterioration of cartilage triggers an inflammatory pathway within the joint that causes pain and further breakdown of the healthy tissue within the joint. There are many causes that trigger this breakdown, from injury to infection to developmental abnormalities to autoimmune disease. Although we don’t usually classify DJD as a serious disease, it can actually become severely debilitating to many animals! Arthritis is most commonly diagnosed after a complete history is taken, and a full physical exam is performed. Radiographs (x-rays) help us determine which joint or joints are affected and the severity of the disease.
The good news: we have MANY options to help alleviate this pain in our pets!
Simple changes in your pet’s environment:
1. Reduce the number of stairs your pet as to use on a daily basis. This will reduce the strain on their joints and reduce the risk of injury.
2. Place carpets or rugs on hard or slippery surfaces. This allows them to have better traction and more stability when they are mobile.
3. Allow low-impact exercise daily. Low impact exercise such as walks or passive range of motion exercises are like physical therapy for your dog and actually improve joint health. Whereas bursts of high impact running, jumping and playing can cause further damage and subsequent pain.
4. Maintain a healthy body condition. Obesity causes excess strain on your dog’s already weakened bones and joints. Orthopedic specialists have proven that weight loss is the most effective treatment if your pet is overweight and suffering from arthritis.
Available treatment options:
1. Prescription diets for joint health and weight loss. These diets have ingredients that promote regeneration of healthy joint tissue, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories at therapeutic levels. There are also formulations that will assist in boosting your dog’s metabolism to encourage weight loss.
2. Nutraceuticals: These products provide the building blocks for healthy joint tissue. There are countless products available in stores and online. However it is important to recognize that not all of these products are created equal, the source of the active ingredients, the combination of the nutrients and the bioavailability (how well they are digested) all effect how effective they will be.
3. Medications: These include prescription medications that will require an exam by your veterinarian. There are many options such as oral Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), pain modulators, or an injectable “disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug” known as Adequan.
Many of these environmental changes and therapeutic options are most effective when instituted in conjunction with one another. This is where we, as your veterinary team, can help! After examining your pet and discussing what changes you have noticed in your pet, we will create a therapeutic plan. These plans are individual to each pet and can be modified as your pet ages, and his disease progresses. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s mobility, please contact us! I promise you- we WILL find a way to help alleviate their pain!
– Dr. Charlotte A. Lucas
For the month of December, we’re giving away Tri-Cox – TRP-Tri-COX Soft Chews Joint Support Dog Supplement contains a unique blend of ingredients that target all aspects of joint health in dogs. The unique blend of ingredients in TRP-Tri-COX helps maintain normal inflammatory and immune response in the joint. TRP-Tri-COX also provides the cartilage building blocks, antioxidants and muscle support that are necessary for proper joint function. Simply complete the survey by clicking the button below and we’ll randomly select a winner. This promotion will run until the week after Christmas!