Arthritis is one of the most common complaints affecting our older pets. It occurs when the protective layer than cushions the joints (cartilage) begins to deteriorate, causing inflammation and pain.

This condition usually affects more than one joint and will often present with low grade chronic pain initially that will deteriorate with time, but can have periods of acute painful flare ups.

Signs your pet might show:

  • Limping
  • Stiffness after exercise
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Difficulty rising, sitting or climbing stairs
  • Reluctance to jump in and out of car
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Reduced grooming/ matts around back and hind-legs (cats)
  • Sleeping in different places (cats)
  • Muscle loss
  • Dislike of being picked up or stroked (cats)

Management

Unfortunately this is not a condition we can cure but together we can formulate how to best manage this condition in your pet. Here are some examples of different treatments that can be used in managing arthritis in dogs and cats.

Joint supplements

Glucosamine, chondroitin and green lipped muscles. There are many different products on the market. They aim to help maintain and replenish joint cartilage. Some products we recommend:

  • Yumove (advance)
  • Nutraquin plus (also contains a natural anti-inflammatory)
  • Hills j/d food

Physiotherapy

This can help reduce joint stiffness and relieve muscle spasm associated with this condition.

An example of this is Galen Myotherapy: www.galentherapycentre.co.uk

Hydrotherapy

This is especially good for older dogs that are carrying extra weight as a low impact form of exercise.

Locally there is a hydrotherapy centre at Crossways Kennels in Betchworth.

Cartrophen

This is an injection (under the skin like a vaccination) given by your vet starting with four weekly doses. It acts by improving the quality of the cartilage and fluid within the joints to help relieve the inflammation and pain.

Regimes

Mild OA – 1 course every 12 months

Moderate OA- 1 course every 6 months

Chronic/ severe OA- 1 course every 4 months or top up injections every 1-3 months

Pain relief/ anti-inflammatories

NSAIDs

Eventually the above managements will not control your pet’s pain with this condition. Non- steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) are the main medication used for management of OA. There are a number of different ones including tablets and liquids- discuss with your vet which one would be suitable for your pet. Medications will rarely have side-effects so we advise a blood sample to check your pet’s liver and kidney function prior to being prescribed a medication for long term use.

Tramadol

An opiate (related to morphine) painkiller than can be useful in severe arthritis or for bad flare ups. Can cause drowsiness and dependency so ideally for short term use only.

Gabapentin

Can reduce ‘neurogenic pain’ (pain caused by damage to the nerves). Can be helpful especially with spinal pain but often seems to help severe arthritis elsewhere as well. Tends to be used with anti-inflammatories and/or tramadol. Can cause sedation.

Also, please note that if your pet has been prescribed a long term medication, by law they must be checked by a vet every 6 months in order to continue the prescription.

General management

  • Raise food bowls
  • Soft/ cushioned beds
  • Away from draughts
  • Little and often walking
  • Ramp to help in car