ARTHRITIS

Dr. Julie Schell  BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, CVCHM, CVC

             Does your pet limp?  Is she or he ever slow to rise or walk or painful when a joint is touched?  If so, they may be suffering from arthritis.  Arthritis is a painful disease of the joints that may be due to hip dysplasia, inherited defects of bones, obesity, or torn ligaments.  Signs of arthritis include mild to severe lameness, decreased activity levels, decreased appetite, lethargy, licking or chewing at affected joints, restlessness, and preference for soft and warm places to rest.  If you suspect that your pet has arthritis, Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital can help.

Dr Schell will give your pet a lameness examination and will rule out other causes of lameness such as nerve damage, metabolic diseases, and heart and lung abnormalities.  Joints will be evaluated for signs of pain, swelling, laxity and other abnormalities.  Your pet may require radiographs (x-rays) or other forms of imaging such as computed tomography (CAT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), arthroscopy or ultrasonography.  Samples of the fluid in your pet’s joints may be needed to determine if there is infection or immune-mediated inflammation.  A biopsy of the joint capsule may also improve diagnosis.

Treatment for arthritis includes correcting underlying causes of arthritis, anti-inflammatory medications, medications to decrease pain, proper nutrition and body weight control.  Nutriceuticals such as omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, S-adenosyl-L-methionine, antioxidants, and joint injections may be beneficial.

Exercise and physiotherapy is important. Forms of physiotherapy include leash walking, swimming, warm and cold compresses, underwater treadmills, and passive range-of-motion exercises.  Surgery may be required if ligaments are torn or if bone abnormalities exist. Therapeutic ultrasonography, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, herbal medicine and essential oil therapy may also help control the pain.  Most of these therapies are offered here at Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital. We will also teach you how to perform massage and passive range of motion exercises for your pet.

Check out these videos to help get you started with passive range of motion exercises:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXz5S0_Y22w
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMHIFBDTb9c
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Zim3PgYEAE

A therapeutic food for dogs and cats has been developed by Hill’s Prescription Diets called Canine j/d or Feline j/d.  It is fortified with special vitamins and minerals including omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate and antioxidants that help prevent pain, inflammation and further cartilage damage.

Preventing arthritis in your pet is possible by helping your pet maintain an optimal body condition through proper nutrition, limiting excess treat calories and encouraging daily exercise.  Over-exercising your pet is dangerous and may lead to increased joint and ligament injury.  We can help you develop an ideal exercise regimen for your pet.

Please contact Bow Bottom Veterinary Hospital (403)278-1984 if you suspect that your pet suffers from arthritis.  For more information browse www.bowbottomvet.com.

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