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How to Help a Dog or Cat With Arthritis

January 30th, 2017 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

Woman with a golden retriever that has dog arthritis

6 tips to help your pet feel more comfortable

Have you noticed your dog or cat just isn’t as active as in days past? Maybe your kitty is reluctant to jump on things she used to? Or perhaps your dog takes longer to get up, isn’t as sure footed on your wood floors or is limping?

Your cat or dog may be showing signs of arthritis.

Dog or cat arthritis is cartilage damage around your pet’s joints. It causes inflammation, discomfort and pain. As with humans, arthritis can be due to:

  • Getting older
  • Being overweight
  • Having an anatomical issue — such as a former ACL injury
  • Having an autoimmune issue — meaning your pet’s immune system is acting up

The good news is there are things you can do to help a dog or cat with arthritis. Here are six tips to make your pet more comfortable.

1) Make sure your pet isn’t overweight and is on a quality food.

Just like with people, if your pet is overweight, it can put excess stress on your pet’s joints. Excess weight can contribute to arthritis as your pet grows older.

Good quality foods, such as iVet, can help keep your pet at a healthy weight. Many of these foods contain vitamins and minerals to help with joint health.

If your dog or cat is overweight, it’s important to get that weight down. Our veterinarians are happy to chat with you about a strategy during your pet’s next exam.

Overweight dogs and cats (like this cat) are at risk for dog and cat arthritis.

2) Be proactive if your dog or cat has had an injury.

If we know your dog or cat has had an injury or was born with an anatomical issue that could have a long-term impact, our veterinarians can prescribe joint supplements. Examples of these types of health issues include:

  • A torn ACL
  • A bone fracture
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow issues
  • Muscle issues
  • A toe or leg amputation

You give joint supplements to your pet at home. The supplements help to keep the joint fluid thicker around the injury area and make the cartilage healthier.

It’s worth noting that joint supplements aren’t regulated through the FDA. This means they can very widely in quality and effectiveness. Our veterinarians will only prescribe a high-quality product that:

  • Has clinical research to back it up
  • Contains guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin (ingredients that help keep the cartilage and fluid healthy for as long as possible)

3) Visit a veterinarian as soon as you begin to notice unusual behavior.

If you notice our pet is starting to act strangely (such as limping, groaning or not jumping), have your dog or cat checked out quickly.

If your pet is just in the early stages of arthritis, we can get your furry friend started on the right medications. The meds can go a long way in diminishing pain and discomfort!

Woman holds cat after giving him meds for cat arthritis

4) Give your pet an oral anti-inflammatory medication.

Once your pet starts exhibiting discomfort from arthritis, we can prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. If we can start your pet on oral medications early, we can extend the period of time before he or she experiences a lot of pain.

Long-term, if your pet’s arthritis has progressed, there are injectable medications we’d be happy to discuss with you to offset the pain.

It’s worth noting that we need to run blood work before prescribing these medications. We want to make sure your pet’s liver and kidneys are healthy. We’ll also periodically run tests once we’ve started these medications to ensure your furry friend’s organs remain healthy.

5) Ask about laser therapy.

With laser therapy, our veterinarians use light to stimulate the affected cells, so they function better. Laser therapy increases the blood supply to the arthritic areas and helps decrease the inflammation. This means your pet can become more flexible and feel better.

A beloved older yellow lab who gets laser therapy for arthritis

6) Explore acupuncture or physical therapy for chronic arthritis.

If your dog or cat has chronic arthritis, it may be work looking into alternative medicine.

It’s difficult to say exactly what your dog or cat needs without a consultation. It may be time to visit a specialist. Or, there may be things you can do at home, such as using heating pads and massage.

When our veterinarians can assess how severe your pet’s arthritis is and what your interests are, we can help point you in the right direction.

 Be proactive!

If your dog or cat may be showing signs of arthritis, take the first step in making your furry friend more comfortable. Call 303-688-3757 for an appointment. Or:

Make appointment 

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Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on how to help a dog or a cat with arthritis. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, we welcome your call.)

© 2017, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

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