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Posted on 01-13-2018
Arthritis and Your Pet
This chilly winter weather has many of us feeling our age. We experience stiffness in our joints, and getting around is more difficult and sometimes painful. Joint pain and stiffness are the hallmark signs of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that can also affect our pets. Older pets are more commonly affected, but arthritis can also be caused by trauma to a joint, or obesity. Pet owners often notice that their pet has slowed down, but attribute it to aging instead of pain. Symptoms of arthritis in pets include limping (more often noticed in dogs than in cats,) slower movement, reluctance to engage in play, sleeping more, licking at legs or feet, irritability, and loss of appetite. Cats with arthritis may stop grooming themselves and developed rough, unkempt coats. If you notice any of these signs, a visit to your vet is in order.
While arthritis is painful, it is also manageable. Anti-inflammatory medications can ease discomfort and low-impact exercise will help relieve stiffness. Losing a few pounds will help obese pets feel better and move more comfortably. It is important to consult a veterinarian for the best arthritis treatment options. Never treat an arthritic pet with over-the-counter medications, unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian. There are risks associated with long term use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) that must be monitored, and some over-the-counter drugs are toxic to pets.
A few changes in the arthritic pet’s environment can make them more comfortable. Softer bedding, gentle exercise, and massage can help ease stiffness and pain. The pet owner can groom the spots the pet can no longer reach, and provide ramps so the pet can avoid having to jump up or down from favorite area.
With proper management, the arthritic pet can be comfortable and active for years to come. Early diagnosis and treatment is key, so if you notice your pet is slowing down or seems depressed, schedule an appointment with us by calling 304-344-2244.
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