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Is your pet slower to get up after lying down?
Do they have problems jumping in and out of the car?
Are they less keen to exercise?
If you have noticed any of these changes in your pet then they may be suffering from arthritis and/or painful joints. It is a very common disease in both dogs and cats and surprisingly studies suggest as many as 90% of cats in the UK over 12 years old may be affected.
Arthritis is a progressive deterioration of joint function usually, but not exclusively, seen in older animals. Joint problems occur when normal cartilage wears away faster than it can be replaced and this leads to the joint to becoming swollen and painful. Signs of arthritis that you the owner may notice include:
•Reluctance to exercise or to jump up or down from heights
•Lack of grooming in cats
•Increased periods of sleep and decreased interaction with the owner
People often report these issues are aggravated by prolonged periods of exercise; by long periods of rest/lying down and by cold, damp weather. Although joint issues can often not be reversed, there are usually ways you and your vet can help manage your pet’s problems to keep them mobile and comfortable. Simple measures include:
•Weight reduction for pets that are classed as being overweight or obese;
•Correct exercise - little and often exercise and avoidance of soft surfaces such as sand and high impact surfaces such as pebbles;
•Medications such as anti-inflammatories;
•Non-pharmacological treatments including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, laser treatment and acupuncture;
•Diets designed to support joint function and joint supplements such as Glucosamine & Chondroitin or green lipped mussel extract.
Other lifestyle changes can be helpful too, for example:
•Ramps or steps to get in and out of the car or onto the sofa,
•Dog coats to help keep joints warm
•Horizontal scratching posts for cats.
If you think your pet may be suffering with painful joints please contact your local vet’ or vet nurse who will be able to examine your cat or dog fully and offer you advice and guidance that will help you find ways to enhance your pet’s quality of life.
Lisa Walters, Registered Vet Nurse, Bath Vets