Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, affects a staggering 1 out of 5 adult dogs and cats! Did you know that there are things you can do to relieve your best friend’s pain and discomfort? Let’s learn more about arthritis and what you can do to give your pet the relief it needs.

What causes arthritis?

Certain dogs and cats are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than others. Some of the more common things that can contribute to the development of arthritis in your pet include old age, large size, and obesity. Trauma or injury can also trigger arthritis, and certain breeds are genetically predisposed to the disease. In addition, there are inherited developmental abnormalities of the bones and joints that can lead to arthritis. Dogs that participate in excessive physical activity have a great chance of developing arthritis as well.

How do you know if your pet has arthritis?

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if your pet is in pain. Pets are great at hiding pain and illness. The signs can be subtle and you may not even realize that they are due to your pet being in pain. If you notice any of the following changes in your pet, talk to your veterinarian to discuss whether osteoarthritis pain could be the cause:

* Difficulty climbing stairs, walking, running, or jumping

* Reluctance to play

* Lameness, limping, or moving with an altered gait

* Stiffness or slowness in rising from a resting position

* Soreness upon being touched

* Frequent yelping or whimpering or lack of vocalization

* Excessive licking of a joint or leg

* Behavioral changes such as withdrawal or aggression

* Change in normal eating habits

It’s not always easy to see that your pet is in pain due to osteoarthritis. However, it’s important for you to recognize the signs and alert your veterinarian so that arthritis can be diagnosed as soon as possible and proper treatment begun. Fortunately, early treatment of pain and inflammation can help control the progression of arthritis and allow your pet to remain comfortable longer and improve their quality of life.

How can you make your pet feel better, have less pain, and be happier?

Fortunately, there are many treatments options available to help dogs and cats with arthritis. While there is no cure for arthritis, we can help manage it with special diets, pain relieving medicines and supportive treatment.

NSAID’s – One of the mostly widely used group of medications for dogs with osteoarthritis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also know as NSAIDs. NSAIDs are used to relieve joint pain, inflammation, and swelling to make it easier and less painful for dogs to move. One such NSAID is METACAM. Metacam has been used for over 15 years and has helped dogs worldwide to live more comfortable lives and continue to enrich the lives of their owners. Metacam is a honey-flavored liquid that can be easily applied right on your dog’s food or administered directly into your dog’s mouth from the dispenser. One small dose of Metacam provides effective pain relief to help restore a dog’s mobility all day long. NSAIDS may not be appropriate for all dogs, so it is important to have your dog examined and evaluated first to find out if an NSAID is the right choice for your dog. NSAID’s can have side effects so baseline blood work and blood monitoring will be recommended if your dog will be on these medications for long term use. Cats are very sensitive to NSAIDs so never give your dog’s NSAID to your cat.

NSAID’s are just one part of the treatment for osteoarthritis. Your management program may include:

* Controlling your dog’s weight through diet and exercise

* Ensuring a comfortable living environment

* Performing physical therapy and massage

* Making daily activities easier and less painful

* Managing any other medical problems that exist

DIET – Another treatment option that is available for both dogs and cats with osteoarthritis is Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d mobility. j/d mobility is designed specifically to help increase your dog or cat’s mobility in as little as 21 days! Read more about the benefits of j/d on Hillspet.com and look for money saving coupons! For dogs that have very early arthritis or for breeds prone to arthritis, Hill’s Healthy Mobility is now available, Find out more how you can increase your dog’s mobility in 30 days by visiting Hillspet.com.

NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS or “NUTRACEUTICALS” – This is the last group and can be extremely beneficial for your dog or cat. These products can be used alone or in conjunction with diet and NSAID’s to provide your furry friend much relief. The great thing about these products are that they don’t have harmful side effects and don’t require blood monitoring with long term usage. They are non-prescription and can be a great “natural” choice for your pet.

At Stockton Hill Animal Hospital, we are dedicated to providing your pets the comfort they deserve so they can continue to enrich your life. During December, we are teaming up with Metacam and providing FREE pain relief from arthritis for dogs that qualify! Call us at 757-7979 to find out more and to schedule an appointment to help your best friend be happy and pain free today!

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