Jude Bordelon, DVM, MS, Assistant Professor of Small Animal Surgery at OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, provides these tips to pet owners about the aches and pains of their aging pet.
Arthritis in pets typically is the result of osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease). It is a chronic condition that is usually progressive and irreversible. The goal of treatment is to slow the progression of the arthritis while helping to maintain joint function and quality of life.
Four primary areas to consider when medically treating this type of arthritis are:
- Nutrition – well balanced nutrition is important. Calorie intake needs to match the pet’s activity level in order to avoid obesity. Obesity increases the burden on a pet’s bones and joints.
- Exercise – Low impact exercise such as walking or swimming is good for joints. Exercise should be routine but not necessarily long. Watch your pet for signs of fatigue or lameness and stop the exercise.
- Medication – anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to treat the signs of arthritis. While there are many drugs available for use in humans, most of these drugs are potentially dangerous to your pet. Consult your veterinarian before giving your pet any drug, especially pain medications.
- Chondroprotective Agents – these products support the health and function of joint cartilage. A side benefit is the reduction of inflammation. Examples of these types of agents are Adequan and Cosequin. These agents should be given only under recommendation and supervision of a veterinarian.
Other treatments can compliment the above. Passive range of motion exercises, massage of the affected limb, and cold and heat therapy used in conjunction with walking and swimming exercises can help make your pet more comfortable and maximize the benefits from exercise.
Osteoarthritis is a continually evolving process. Treatment requires patience combined with the above recommendations to achieve maximum success.