Arthritis is the most common problem affecting older pets and can be an extremely debilitating disease. The causes are many, but ultimately end in the same result. The joint becomes inflamed and cartilage damage results. This causes pain and a decreased range of motion.
When it comes to treating arthritis it is important to point out that there is no “wonder drug” available that single handedly achieves the miraculous “cure”. Instead, help comes from the 'Team Effort' of both owners and veterinarians to provide alleviation.
What can I do ?
The 3 most important home care tips for helping arthritis are :
Get them moving
Keep warm and comfortable
2) Get them moving
Lots of gentle exercise ( Little and often ) is important for the joints to be lubricated. Muscles and tendons that support the joints are also strengthened and provide more support to weaker limbs.
3) Keep them warm and comfortable
A good supportive bed in a warm place is essential for arthritic dogs, as this allows them to rest their limbs and recover from any stress and strain . Keep drafts out in the winter and ensure the bedding is kept dry, well cushioned and warm.
What can Vets do ?
We treat arthritis in numerous ways depending on each pet's circumstance. It is important to note that every case is different, and often if one form of treatment is not working properly, we can try another completely different approach which may be more effective. Listed below are our commonly used forms of treatment for arthritis :
Anti-inflammatories (e.g. Metacam/Loxicom/Rimadyl)
These drugs are be used for arthritis often when your pet is in obvious discomfort or pain. They can be used periodically or as an ongoing part of the treatment. There are a number of anti-inflammatories we can use, each of which can work in a slightly different way. If your pet is on these drugs continuously or intermittently long-term, it is necessary that a clinical check up is done every 6 months. Blood tests will also form part of this check to monitor your pet for any side-effects that may occur and may not be obvious. Anti-inflammatories are all about improving the quality of life of animals which are needlessly suffering from treatable pain.
Cartrophen is given to help improve the blood supply (and therefore healing) of the joint and decrease cartilage destruction. This, therefore, helps to directly address the problem rather than just provide pain relief. The injections are given once a week for 4 weeks with the response being seen at weeks 3-5. Injections are then repeated monthly to yearly, depending on the severity of the arthritis and can also be given prior to winter.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These two supplements are often found in health food shops for humans with arthritis . Both ingredients have been known to support the nutrition of the joint by promoting healthy lubrication and suppleness of the joint surface. It is important to note that these are supplements only , and as such, tend to have a much more subtle effect which often takes time to build up and show signs of improvement. We will often recommend these products as a compliment to other medications or as a preventative in animals that may be prone to arthritis in the future.
Other Pain Relief medication.
It may be necessary to use specific pain killing drugs (e.g. Tramadol) to ease any discomfort your pet may be in. Often these drugs are extremely beneficial but are generally only used when and as may be indicated.
We have other treatments close at hand such as acupuncture , hydrotherapy and alternative medicines (eg Bioflow collars and Beds) which can often help reduce the need for high dosage of the treatments listed above. There are many circumstances where we may be recommending these treatments to certain patients.
Important points about Arthritis Treatment
The earlier a diagnosis is made and the earlier treatment is begun – generally the better the outcome.
Treatment will be ongoing and lifelong – it may be necessary to add other drugs into the treatment from time to time.
If one treatment is not working, please get in touch as we may be able to offer another.
Regular check-up ensure everything is being done to make this debilitating disease as painless as possible .
Getting the best result will involve both owner and vet contributing to alleviation.
We hope this information has been useful to you , please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you would like to talk about arthritis or anything else.