A common health-related issue that pets often suffer from is Arthritis. Whilst we humans can tell someone if our muscles or joints are hurting or aching, animals do not have that same luxury and so unless they are in serious or instant pain, they do not cry out. This is why it is essential to keep an eye out for any changes in your pet’s behaviour or movement.
Arthritis is a pain of the joint and can affect just one specific joint or many joints in a pet’s body. In-between each joint of bone there is a substance called cartilage which acts as a cushion and lubricates the joint. Once this substance is worn down and has eroded away, it can cause swelling, inflammation and general pain.
There are two types of Arthritis that can affect cats and dogs. The first is known as Osteoarthritis and is a degenerative condition whereby the cartilage is worn down. This is the more common type of the disease (usually present in older pets) and is caused by over-usage over the joint. It can also be found to affect young to middle aged pets if they have suffered a severe shock or injury to their joint or have suffered from a serious disease. The second type is known as Rheumatoid arthritis and is an autoimmune disorder in which the pet’s body will attack its joints and cause inflammation. This type is rarer than Osteoarthritis.
The symptoms of Arthritis in a pet can sometimes be hard to spot; this is especially true with older pets. Many people believe that their older pets move slowly, display lethargy or limp a little on a certain leg simply because they are getting old. Whilst this is the case, there is also a high chance that the older pet may be suffering from Arthritis and can be given medication to alleviate some of the pain. Other symptoms can include a fever, loss of appetite and a reluctance to move.
There are various medications that a vet may prescribe for your pet if they are suffering from Arthritis. The medication prescribed will be dependent upon each individual pet and their medical history. It is very important that you do not self-administer drugs that humans take for Arthritis (such as ibuprofen and aspirin) to your pet as they are extremely dangerous and can prove lethal.
When talking about treatment it is important to note that it is all about handling and management of your particular pet. In addition to medication, weight control can play a key role in easing the pressure and pain put on a pet’s sore joint. If you cat or dog is overweight and suffering from Arthritis, then ‘lightening the load’ can help to put less pressure on the sore joint. Once the disease has been diagnosed and medicated, it is key that a minimal amount of movement and exercise is placed upon the suffering joint. Again, it is about control as too much exercise will aggravate the joint or wear down the cartilage. If a pet develops Arthritis then this treatment/management will have to be continued for the rest of its life.
Arthritis can be very unpleasant and on-going and so if your pet is moving a little gingerly then arrange an appointment at the vets. Here they may take an x-ray of the affected ligament and will be able to determine if your pet does indeed have Arthritis.
Please be aware that this article is for informative and advice purposes only. It is not a medical document and if you are worried that your cat may be suffering from Arthritis or any other type of illness then you should contact your local vet.