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Managing Your Pet's Arthritis

Years of running, jumping and walking take a toll on your pet's joints. When your once energetic cat or dog starts to slows down or appears to be in pain, osteoarthritis may be to blame. The disease wears down the cartilage in the joints, causing bones to rub together painfully. Although there's no way to reverse arthritis, you can do a few things to make your furry friend's life more comfortable.

Arthritis Signs

Arthritis signs are often subtle and can be confused with general behavioral changes associated with aging. Pets may show little interest in playing, even though a rousing game of fetch was once a favorite daily activity. When it hurts to stand up or lie down, it's not surprising that your dog or cat may move as little as possible during the day. Sleeping or resting more may be an indication that your pet suffers from painful, stiff joints.

Other signs of arthritis may include weight gain, limping, poor grooming in cats, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, or licking or biting the skin over a sore joint. Walking and moving requires more energy when your joints don't work as well as they once did. If your pet has arthritis, you may notice that he or she tires faster than usual or isn't eager to join you on your nightly walk.

Because other health conditions may share some of the same signs as arthritis, it's important to receive a diagnosis from your pet's veterinarian before you treat your dog or cat's condition at home.

Try These Tips to Improve Your Pet's Comfort

Adopting these strategies can reduce pain and strain on joints and muscles:

  • Go Soft. Provide soft resting places that offer plenty of cushioning and prevent exposure to cold drafts. Even pets that once enjoyed lying on the hard floor will appreciate a soft bed if they develop arthritis.
  • Buy a Ramp. Ramps of varying sizes can help your dog or cat navigate your home. Install a large ramp over the steps leading into your home to make it easier for your pet to access your yard. Buy smaller ramps and place them next to your pet's favorite chair or your bed (if your pet sleeps with you).
  • Make a Few Changes. Look for ways to make your pet's life easier. If your cat has difficulty climbing into the litter box, buy a box with lower edges or cut out a section of the existing box. Raising eating and drinking dishes can make mealtime easier for some pets with arthritis.
  • Encourage Exercise. Although your pet may be reluctant to exercise, moving can help reduce joint stiffness. You may need to make some adaptations to your pet's usual exercise routine, such as substituting short walks for agility training. Swimming is an excellent source of exercise for dogs because it doesn't stress the joints.
  • Become a Masseuse. Gently massage the muscles surrounding your pet's joints to help relieve pain and stiffness and improve range of motion. If your pet yelps or complains during a massage, use a softer touch or concentrate on a less sensitive area of the body.
  • Help Your Pet Lose Weight. It's harder to exercise when you're in pain. Unfortunately, if your pet doesn't exercise, he or she will gain weight, which can worsen arthritis symptoms. According to a study published in the February 2010 issue of Veterinary Research Communications, a 6 percent or higher weight loss significantly decreased lameness in dogs with osteoarthritis. In addition to exercise, switching to a senior diet may help your pet lose weight.
  • Consider Supplements. Glucosamine and chondroitrin, the same supplements people use, may also be helpful in treating arthritis in pets. Before you give your pet any supplement or over-the-counter medication, consult a veterinarian. Some supplements or medications that are safe for people can harm pets.
  • Talk to Your Pet's Veterinarian. Your pet's veterinarian can provide treatment and advice that will help relieve pain and improve mobility. If your dog or cat seems to be in pain, the vet may prescribe pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications that can improve your pet's quality of life.

Regular veterinary care and a little extra TLC from you will make your arthritic pet's life easier. Call us today to schedule an appointment for your furry friend.

Sources:

PetMD: Arthritis: How to Recognize and Manage the Condition

http://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/evr_dg_arthritis_how_to_recognize_and_manage_the_condition?page=show

Veterinary Research Communications: The Effect of Weight Loss on Lameness in Obese Dogs with Osteoarthritis, 2/10

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855019/

AVMA: Arthritis in Pets: A Painful But Manageable Condition, 10/21/14

https://www.avma.org/News/PressRoom/Pages/arthritis-in-pets-video.aspx

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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