As we get older, we become at risk for the aches and pains of arthritis. It is no different for your aging pet. Your once young, agile pet may appear to be stiff and have lost that bounce in her step. This could be the result of arthritis and the symptoms should be observed and followed-up on at your veterinarian’s office if you feel that after following some of these suggestions, you don’t see any improvement. Most importantly, and I know it is hard, but eliminate or decrease their use of steps, yes steps.
Watch for information regarding steps-
Signs & Symptoms of Arthritis
There are several indicators that your pet may exhibit if they have this painful degenerative joint disease. The most obvious signs are stiffness or a limp in their gait. This symptom is often seen when your dog or cat gets up after taking a nap. You may also observe that your pet has difficulty when trying to get up or lay down. That is another indicator that your pet may be experiencing pain and discomfort caused by arthritis. Also, if your pet seems to have stopped grooming themselves, it may be because she is unable to reach spots due to soreness caused by arthritis. Finally, many pets with arthritic pain may exhibit behavioral problems. If your cat has stopped using the litter box (this usually is a condition of crystals BUT…) or seems to be more irritable, or your dog has constant difficulty squatting or has stopped lifting his leg, it could be that they’re in pain associated with arthritis.
Treating Your Pets’ Arthritis
If it has been determined that your pet suffers from arthritis, there are plenty of options for treatment. The vet can provide medical treatment. Depending on the severity of your pet’s condition, the vet will explore a number of options ranging from prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs to performing surgery. Beyond the medical treatment, there are several things you can do at home to help your pet. First, ensure that all of her favorite hangout spots are easily accessible. For your cat or if your dog is a small breed, you can do this by placing stairs that lead up to the couch, so she does not have to jump up or down, lift them off of the raised spot if you can. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the litter box. Use a litter box that is easy to get in and out of and put it in the same room that she spends the majority of her time in. This will minimize the strain of climbing into the litter box and having to walk as far to get to it. For your dog, ramps are available for in and out to the yard, this way eliminating the stairs all together. Just be sure there are rungs or the ramp is made of a non-slip material with drainage. Also, monitor their weight. Excess weight will only aggravate her arthritis. If you have familiarized yourself with my other blogs, you know I am a firm believer in “Less is Best”. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight will minimize much of the stress on the inflamed joints.
Just a quick note that almost all “low calorie” or prescription diets contain higher levels of grain or starches, which actually put weight on your pet as they are less digestible and they’re less active. Just look at most older dogs at the park and ask their owner, you’ll see they are on a “light or a prescription diet. A way to maintain a healthier, lighter pet, which has worked very well is to locate a higher digestible diet made of higher quality meat based formulation, which will actually strengthen their muscles and make the most use of the food.
Watch for an idea of what specialty diets actually are and what to look for.
There will always be risk for conditions like arthritis as your pet ages, but you can help alleviate some of the pain and frustration. Pay attention to how your older pet behaves and watch for the signs of arthritis. If you believe your dog or cat may suffer from arthritis, try adding some of these tips which make perfect sense and have worked well with many veterinarians’ advise and treatment. Arthritis is not curable, but managing and treating the arthritis will help your furry pal navigate this painful condition more easily and can significantly reduce the effects it has on her life.