“Baby, it’s cold out there!” Well, if you live in Southern Arizona, like we do, it’s relatively cold-er… Either way, arthritic joints can tell! We routinely get more complaints about pets having a harder time getting up and lying down, getting moving in the morning, getting comfortable to go to sleep this time of year. All because it’s colder! But there are things that we recommend for pets with arthritis. (I’m talking about cats, too. Did you know that 80% of cats who “slow down”, “sleep more”, “have trouble jumping up”, “are getting crankier in their old age” actually have arthritis?!)
Recommedations for pets suspected of having Osteoarthritis:
- #1: Make sure it is arthritis! A lot of diseases mimic achy joints! Have your vet rule out and treat the following, if present, before assuming it’s “just arthritis” and just putting your pet on pain meds. (Sure, this will require an office visit, and probably some x-rays, but that’s a better investment than years worth of pain medication that isn’t going to help)
- Heart disease – especially large dogs
- Valley Fever (if you live here, in Southern Arizona)
- Intervertebral disc disease (“slipped/ ruptured discs)
- Lumbosacral stenosis- also large dogs
- Other Joint conditions such as Patellar Luxation (dislocating kneecaps) or Cruciate Ligament injury
- Soft bedding– like “egg crate” foam covered with a sheet or blanket for easy cleaning
- Warmth– keep pets inside at night or provide a heated dog house or cat house (cats love those indoors, too!)
- Bend and stretch their legs while they are restingPhysical Therapy- Go on a 10 -15 minute walk twice daily. Walk over obstacles like rocks and branches, up and down curbs, and up and down hills or stairs
- massage legs that have arthritis– from the toes up!
- Ask your vet for any other exercises that might be appropriate for your pets particular condition
- Weight Loss! The extra weight is hard on inflamed joints. But more importantly, the excess fat
cells are secreting inflammatory factors that make ALL the joints (and everything else in a body– people too btw!) more inflamed! Just get rid of it! Ask your vet for guidance regarding portion control, low cal snacks and treats. Consider a portion control feeder like PortionProRx for multiple pet households where individual feeding is tricky.
- Medical Therapy is very helpful, but don’t forget about all the at-home remedies. When those aren’t enough ask your vet about
- Nutrition Supplements (we recommend spending your money on anti-inflammatory doses of Omega 3 fatty acids before spending on glucosamine/ chondroitin)
- Adequan(r) – an injectable form of glucosamine that gets to inflamed joints much better
- Cold Laser therapy
- Anti-inflamatories (there are some newer products that are even safer for dogs with liver and kidney problems!)
- Adjunctive Pain medication
Arthritis doesn’t have to be debilitating for your pets! As you embark on your own journey of getting healthier or staying healthy for the rest of your life, being your pets along. They will live happier and healthier, too!