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What is Canine/Feline Arthritis?

A Manageable Disease!

Arthritis (inflammation of joints) is a condition that afflicts pets and pet owners alike. However, the cause of arthritis in pets is often different from that in people. "Primary arthritis, i.e., arthritis unrelated to another condition, commonly accompanies old age in humans but is rare in dogs and cats," says Dr. Bradley R. Coolman, resident in small animal surgery at the University of Illinois Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital at Urbana. "In dogs and cats arthritis is most often caused by developmental or degenerative disease or by direct injury to a joint, such as a torn ligament. Less often, we see infectious or autoimmune causes." More old dogs than young dogs have arthritis, not just because they are old but because their increased years have offered more opportunities for insult to a joint.

"Arthritis occurs in large dogs more often than in cats and small dogs for a couple of reasons," explains Dr. Coolman. First, the severity of arthritis is a function of the animal's weight, which puts stress on the joints. A 100-pound shepherd will be more debilitated by painful arthritis than a 10-pound poodle. Second, the common causes of arthritis, such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and other common bone problems, are usually diseases of large, fast-growing dogs. However, arthritis does occur in small dogs and cats.

Joints are composed of cartilage and soft connective tissue. They serve as shock absorbers between bones and provide a low-friction surface that allows independent motion of adjacent bones. Painful arthritis can result from degeneration of the cartilage or inflammation of the soft connective tissue.

What are the symptoms of Arthritis?

Animals show evidence of this pain by limping or refusing to bear weight on the painful limb.

How is Arthritis in Pets Treated?

Immediate Treatment Restrict activity with cage confinement and reduce inflammation with veterinarian recommended anti-inflammatory drugs.

Danger: Only anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed by your veterinarian should be used for your pet. Any side effects of these drugs should be immediately reported to your veterinarian. Because of differences in metabolism, many anti-inflammatory drugs available for human use can be dangerous to pets.
On-Going Medical Management Provide moderate exercise and weight control. Moderate exercise helps maintain joint mobility and muscle strength for joint support. Weight control helps limit the burden the joints must support. Adherence to such a program can decrease pain and increase function in animals with arthritis.
Alternative Medications Many alternative products are used by pet owners to treat and/or relieve arthritis with varying success. Of these, only polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are shown by medical research to be potentially effective. These products should be used only in consultation with your veterinarian.
Surgical Options In cases where medical management alone cannot control arthritic pain, surgical procedures, such as arthrotomy (removal of bone and cartilage fragments), arthrodesis (stabilization by fusion of the joint), or total hip replacement can be considered.

Credit: University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

All info is from internet sources and is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. C.A.R.E. is not a veterinary facility. Consult a licensed veterinarian if your pet exhibits any unusual symptoms or behavior.

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