Arthritis In Pets
ARTHRITIS IN PETS, IS THAT THE SAME ARTHRITIS PEOPLE GET?
Old age arthritis (or osteoarthritis) is very common in both humans and dogs, and can be regarded as the same disease. It is usually a result of the ongoing wear and tear and instability in the joints, although other factors such as injury, genetic makeup, infection, blood diseases, allergic or immune system disease and cancer can also affect the progress of the disease. Commonly in dogs arthritis will affect the hips, shoulder, elbow, knee and spine.
A Normal Hip Joint Advanced Osteoarthritis
Most of these joints depend on a layer of cartilage acting as a cushion which also provides a smooth surface so the adjoining bones can move freely over each other. With
arthritis the cartilage deteriorates (compare the purple areas above) so that movement of the bones becomes less smooth.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY PET HAS ARTHRITIS?
Accurate diagnosis is best done by your veterinarian. Some symptoms you may notice include pain or stiffness when getting up, inability to climb steps, general laziness on walks and in more developed cases limping may occur.
HOW CAN I MAKE MY PET FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE?
There are various treatments that can help relieve pain and stiffness and in some cases revitalise and restore joint surfaces damaged by arthritis as described below.
Weight control - weight and exercise determine the amount of stress put on the joints. Calorie restricted diets and gentle exercise to maintain ideal (low end of normal) body weight are essential for animals with, or at risk of arthritis.
Exercise regimes - change your pet's regime to include gentle on-lead walking and swimming. This will keep the muscles toned with least stress on the joints. More stressful rigorous exercise such as playing ball or frisbee will cause wear and tear in the joints and aggravate the condition. Your veterinary healthcare team can recommend nutrition and an exercise program to suit your pet's condition.
Omega 3 is found in veterinary diets at appropriate doses for managing arthritis. Omega 3 fatty acids help block the inflammation around joints that causes pain. They also suppress the activity of an enzyme that causes cartilage damage, thus slowing the progression of arthritis.
Pentosan (Cartrophen or Sodium Pentosan Polysulphate) - as detailed below.
Neutraceuti cals such as glucosamine and Green Lip Mussel can also provide benefits for some dogs with arthritis.
Dietary treats & foods - are also available to help ease arthritis. These are best discussed with you veterinarian.
Acupuncture - is a "drug free" method of stimulating the body's natural healing capacity and can be used in conjunction with all forms of treatment. Acupuncture can be administered by specially trained veterinarians.
Anti -inflammatory medications - reduce the inflammation in the joint and relieves pain and soreness which allows healing to start. They are best used to control acute pain and as an adjunct for management of chronic pain. Anti -inflammatories will not slow the progression of the disease and are best used in combination with other modes of treatment.
PENTOSAN - what does it do?
Pentosan (also referred to as Cartrophen) not only provides relief from pain but it also helps to revitalise and restore all joint surfaces that have been damaged by arthritis throughout the entire body.
Pentosan works by:
- Increasing the synthesis of normal synovial (joint) fluid for effective lubrication of the joint surfaces.
- Promotes new cartilage formation, and limits deterioration.
- Improves the blood supply to the joint, in turn helping it to heal.
As a result strong anti -inflammatory activity occurs in the arthritic areas and this increases the range of pain free movement. Ultimately quality of life is improved.
Pentosan - What does treatment involve?
Pentosan is given by a relatively painless injection usually just under the skin at the back of the neck. Treatment frequency and dosage rates of Pentosan vary between pets.
As a general guide your pet will require an initial course of one injection a week for four weeks. Further treatment will depend on the severity of the condition and response to healing. Older pets or those with chronic ongoing problems may require boosters every one to three months to combat the effects of further ‘wear and tear' on the joints.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR PENTOSAN TO WORK?
The main effect of the drug is due to new cartilage produced in the joint and this may take several weeks to become effective. So it may take a few weeks before you notice obvious improvement However, during subsequent weeks the improvement can be assessed by your pet's degree of lameness, willingness to exercise, ability to get up and down and general demeanour.
CAN I EXPECT SIDE EFFECTS?
No, this is an advantage over other drugs/pain relief that can cause severe stomach irritation.