How to Ease Your Pet’s Arthritis Pain
Let’s face it. Arthritis isn’t fun whether you are an animal or person. Believe it or not arthritis is actually quite common in older dogs and cats. Arthritis usually affects the soft tissues and structures in a pet’s body including the limbs, joints and spine.
Your veterinarian may take a number of different approaches to diagnose arthritis. These may include:
- Blood samples – Your veterinarian can use blood samples to detect higher than normal white blood cell numbers in your pet. A vet will also look for rheumatoid factor or anti nuclear antibodies to detect certain kinds of arthritis in your pet including autoimmune induced arthritis.
- Ultrasound – A veterinarian may use ultrasound to determine whether arthritis has affected soft tissues or the joints, though this is not a common method of diagnosis.
- X-Rays – X-rays can sometimes help provide your vet with information regarding the joints limbs and bones in your pet.
- Arthroscopy – During this procedures a vet can insert a small camera into your pets joint. This camera can reveal changes occurring in the cartilage that might not otherwise show up on ultrasound or when using X-rays.
There are many different treatments available for pets with arthritis. The type of treatment you use may depend on a number of factors including the type of arthritis your pet has, the severity of the disease and your pet’s personality and make up. Here are some of the more common treatments you can use to help alleviate the discomfort your pet feels if diagnosed with arthritis.
- NSAIDs – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents including Rimadyl can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. NSAIDs will not however actually cure or treat the disease itself, and can’t fix joints or soft tissues affected by arthritis. You should keep in mind that many severe side effects are associated with persistent NSAID use, so it is important you look into other pet meds as well particularly for long term relief and treatment.
- Glucosamine – Glucosamine is an increasingly popular natural treatment for arthritis in pets (and humans!). Glucosamine supplementation may help reduce pain associated with soft tissue and cartilage damage in dogs, cats and horses in particular. Glucosamine may also help slow further damage to tissues and joints in the future.
- Fatty Acids – Fatty acid supplementation including foods infused with fatty acids may help reduce inflammation associated with arthritis in pets and may strengthen soft tissues in the body.
- Vitamin E – Like fatty acids Vitamin E helps strengthen soft tissues and may help reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis in pets.
Aside from supplementation there are a number of habits you can adopt to help prevent arthritis or ease the pain associated with arthritis in your pets. For starters, you should help your pet lose weight if your pet is overweight, even slightly. This can help relieve tremendous pressure in your pet’s joints and soft tissues. You should also encourage your pet to engage in low impact exercise including walking. Avoid jogging or running with a pet that has arthritis, as this can increase inflammation and produce pain and discomfort. You may also find that avoiding repetitive motion activities also improves your pet’s mobility and health.
Pet massage can also help relieve the inflammation and discomfort associated with arthritis in your pet. Massages are just as beneficial for pets as they are for people. Studies suggest that pet massage helps boost blood circulation in animals and may also help reduce the levels of hormones caused by stress in your pet’s body. There are two traditional types of pet massage including effleurage and petrissage. Effleurage is simply the act of massaging your pet in a single direction. This involves stroking your pet in one direction, usually the afflicted area, to provide comfort and relief from arthritic conditions. If you are interested in something more vigorous you may try petrissage, which involves kneading, tugging or pulling your pets skin and fur to stimulate circulation. While more vigorous this may result in even more relief for your pet in the long run.
Of course if your pet has areas that are excessively inflamed or bruised you’ll want to avoid damaging them further by aggressively massaging. If you do decide to massage let your pet be your guide. Your pet will let you know if something feels good or not, and you can go from there.