In many ways, our pets are a lot like us. We all suffer from the occasional health problem, sometimes a long-term chronic health issue, and none of us are getting any younger. Your older pet can have age-related issues such as creaking and painful joints, and they might be a little stiff after a long sleep and take a while to warm up and get going. Have patience with your more mature pets; they don’t like it any more than you do and they’ll agree that getting old is no fun.
One of the most common conditions affecting older pets is arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Overweight pets and large, heavy breeds of dog are particularly susceptible due to added strain on their joints. In arthritis affected joints, the cartilage deteriorates, and there is less synovial fluid for smooth joint movement.
Symptoms of Arthritis in your Pet
A little similar to older people, our pets will show symptoms such as limping and stiffness, licking the affected areas, a reluctance to play or being left behind when you’re out walking, and becoming more aggressive and yelping or meowing when touched. Cats with arthritis might stop using the litter box because it’s too painful to jump into it, or they might groom the affected area excessively.
Most pets are good at not showing pain, so you may not notice any symptoms until the disease has progressed so far that walking becomes too painful.
Deteriorating joints are a sign of old age and nothing can be done to cure them. You can, however, slow the progress of arthritis and manage the pain and discomfort.
Feeding a good diet in the right amount from an early age can go a long way to preventing or slowing the progression of arthritis. If your pet is overweight, the added weight will be contributing to their joint problems, so weight reduction and management is crucial. Exercise is vital to keep the joints healthy and stimulate more synovial fluid to lubricate joints. In pets that already have arthritis, it’s important to control the exercise so as not to cause more damage to the affected joints. For dogs, swimming is an excellent low impact method to get the joints moving, and many dogs love to swim. Just keep in mind the water temperature; you don’t want to plunge your arthritic old dog into freezing cold water in the middle of winter.
Provide a soft, warm bed for your pet that they can easily reach without having to jump, and consider making their food and water bowls a little higher so they don’t have to crane their neck to reach them. A ramp can help your pet to get up and down steps easier, as well as in and out of the car.
Specialist Veterinary Services in Sydney
Your veterinary clinic can provide pain relievers and other medications that can help with inflammation. Please don’t give your pet any of your own pain relievers or medication, as they could toxic or even fatal.
If you need arthritis treatment for your pet or have any other veterinary issues, speak to our specialist vets at Sydney Veterinary Emergency & Specialists today. Book an appointment from Monday to Friday 8:30am-6pm or contact us for emergency and after-hours care. Call us on (02) 9197 5800, contact us online or learn more about our services.