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Feline Arthritis

| October 16, 2010

Feline Arthritis

Feline Arthritis

What is it?
Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint. Unfortunately arthritis is common in older animals following a lifetime of general wear and tear on the joints. Younger animals can also suffer from arthritis, but usually as the result of an injury, poor diet or infection. Obese pets are more prone to arthritis due to the extra weight being carried on their joints. Animals with Cushing’s Syndrome (hormonal disorder) and diabetes can also be more susceptible due to the metabolic processes that affect their bones. Working dogs and very athletic dogs may be more likely to be affected due to the additional pressure put on their joints.

Symptoms:
If your pet shows signs of lamesness, stiffness or pain they may be suffering from arthritis. Your pet may also be experiencing some pain while exercising or getting up, difficulty in managing stairs or teh jump into the car, have an altered gait or joint swelling and have a decreased range of motion. Sometimes what appears to be arthritis can in fact turn out to be uncomfortable ‘trigger points’. These are simply muscle cramps but can resemble the symptoms of arthritis. Don’t worry though, as they are not serious and can be treated effectively with a series of acupuncture.

What can be done?

Lifestyle changes:
It is very important to keep your pet at a normal, healthy weight. Try introducing set meal times rather than leaving food out all of the time. Some pets will respond well to a single protein source diet such as a balanced chicken food. Preventative dietary measures are recommended, especially in larger dog breeds and breeds prone to joint problems such as Maine Coons, Devon Rexes, Burmese, German Shepherds etc. Keeping your pet lean during its formative years help prevent developmental bone problems. Some pets may suffer from leaky gut syndrome which can be a contributory factor. In such pets a detoxification diet may help.

Do not overexercise your pet as this puts additional stresses on the joints. Shorter exercise periods rather than a long walk benefit most pets. Swimming is excellent therapy and is recommended as it strengthens muscles and manipulates joints without unduly jarring them. If there is short term joint swelling, cold ice packs may help relieve the symptoms

Holistic Treatments:
Many animals will find great relief following a course of acupuncture and continuing with top up sessions when necessary. Some forms of arthritis may also benefit from a type of deep massage called chiropractic manipulation. This is particularly effective if the pain is associated with the back and spine. Providing a heated water bottle or pad is generally much appreciated by animals suffering with joint pain, especially during the winter months. It is important to encourage gentle exercise, with swimming being the best way to keep joints mobile.

Providing glucosaminoglycans is one of the most important things you can do in the form of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, green lipped sea mussell, bovine or shark cartilage. We prefer to avoid the use of shark cartilage as it is an animal product. Omega 3 acids such as fish oil, Vitamins C & E, probiotics, dimethylglycine, digestive enzymes or apple cider vinegar can also prove to be beneficial.

Herbal products can help with the reduction of inflammation and pain of arthritis. The Natural Vet Company have consulted Sydney veterinarian, Dr Barbara Fougere to formulate a range of safe and easy to use products to best help your pet. You can read more about these products and how they can help here.

Conventional Treatments:
In the meantime, if your pet is experiencing pain, your veterinarian can prescribe conventional drugs. While the Natural Vet Company can offer you new and natural ways to improve your pets health, it is important not to disregard any of the advice that your regular veterinarian provides you with. It should be noted however that long term usage of cortico steroids such as prednisolone shoudl be avoided where possible (make sure you do not leave your pet in unnecessary pain). This form of treatment should be a last resort, there are many reported side effects and the possibility of speeding up the damage [Johnston & Fox 1997]. Reported side effects of corticosteroids include gastric or colonic ulceration, kidney damage. Care must also be taken using non-steroidal anti inflammatories such as Rimadyl, metacam and ibuprofen. Do not completely dismiss these drugs out of hand as they are extremely effective and important in the fight against pain however there is some controversy regarding the possibility of them causing additional damage and harm to the livers, kidneys, brain, immune system and blood. The sensible way forward is to consult with your vet to discuss and consider all of the options – putting the comfort and long term health of your pet at the front of the considerations.

Consult one of our vets:
For more information and guidance feel free to contact The Natural Vet Company directly. You can sign up for a consultation using our online ordering system. One of the many trained veterinarians will be more than happy to guide you through a personalised treatment plan to ensure that your pet is as happy and comfortable as possible. Another option is to post your question to our online forums where other members can perhaps help you with advice and guidance (please note: we do not have any control over the advice given in our forums). Please feel free to suggest a topic for a factsheet and we will be happy to put one online.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS FACTSHEET IS INTENDED FOR GENERAL BACKGROUND READING AND NOT AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL VETERINARY ADVICE. A VET CAN NOTICE SUBTLE CHANGES PERHAPS NOT OBVIOUS IN YOUR PET AND HAS MANY YEARS OF TRAINING TO PROVIDE THE BEST TREATMENT. WE DO NOT ADVISE YOU FOLLOW ANY OF THIS ADVICE WITHOUT CONSULTATION WITH OUR VET OR YOURS.

Copyright & Credit:
Source:  The Natural Vet Company | http://www.naturalvetcompany.com
Photo copyright and courtesy: Kathryn Cairney – stock.xchng

Category: Feline Health, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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