There are many types of arthritis ( joint inflammation) but the one we commonly think of in older animals is osteoarthritis and that is what we shall consider here.

Arthritis is the most common cause of impaired mobility in pets. It is most commonly seen in older dogs (7 years and up), however younger dogs and cats are not immune.

The pain and inflammation caused by this degenerative joint disease can be very severe and affected animals are usually unwilling to move because of their painful joints. A loss of muscle may also be seen in the affected limbs from disuse because of pain.

The signs that your pet has arthritis may range anywhere from slight stiffness to extreme lameness. They may be reluctant to walk, play, climb stairs, or run and jump. They may appear sad, quiet and depressed or perhaps lose their appetite. Overweight pets have a higher tendency to develop arthritis as joint problems are aggravated by excess weight. The more excessive the weight problem, the greater the arthritic aggravation.

If your pet is showing any of the symptoms that have been mentioned above, it might be best to make an appointment and have it checked out at the clinic. Once arthritis is diagnosed it is unlikely to ever go away but treatment is available. Treatment reduces the inflammation and the pain, and can slow down the progression of the disease. The key to successfully reducing pain and inflammation is a combined approach of appropriate treatment, diet and careful exercise.

Diet

The most important way diets can help arthritis is by removing excess weight or maintaining a lean weight, while providing all essential nutrients for a healthy life. If an animal is obese it is impossible to achieve weight loss by just giving less normal food without causing harm. Fortunately there are many specialist diets available which result in steady weight loss but maintain muscle bulk and strength.

Many of these contain carefully controlled ratios of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and glucosamine which assist reduction in joint inflammation. We can supply the best, cost effective diets and help to monitor and achieve a healthy reduction in weight. Once your pet is an ideal size you will find exercise and maintenance of an active lifestyle is easier and happier.

Nutraceuticals

These are food ingredients that provide extra health benefits over basic nutritional needs.There are a bewildering variety of these from anti-oxidants and so – called superfoods to specific compounds reducing joint inflammation such as glucosamine ( found in green lipped mussel extract), chondroitin sulphate ( found in shark cartilage) and fish oils with the best ratios of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

There are a huge number of these products available for people and animals with quite radical claims however given the world-wide multi-billion dollar industry involved in their supply there are surprisingly few controlled scientific trials to give definite information regarding the benefits of their use. They are also very expensive when used continuously so it is important to source products specifically for use in animals as the dosage and formulation can be different from that needed by ourselves.

We can advise you of the best value most effective products for your pets.

Cartrophen

This is a drug which modifies the underlying disease processes that lead to pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis.

Cartrophen Vet has been shown to exhibit the following modes of action

  • 1. Stopping the destructive enzymes that break down cartilage, which is the body’s natural shock absorber
  • 2. Stimulate the body’s production of cartilage
  • 3. Stimulate the body’s production of joint lubricant
  • 4. Clear the blockages in blood vessels to deliver nutrition to the joint and bone
  • 5. Stimulate the production of anti-oxidants that block damaging free
    radicals

It is a prescription only, injected sulphated sugar of plant origin that is given in a course of 4 weekly subcutaneous injections and may be followed up by top up injections every few months. We have found it to provide great benefit in selected cases and routinely use it after joint surgery.

Anti-inflammatory drugs

The medications most effective for pain relief are non-steroidal anti-inflammatories but they must be used on veterinary prescription and with care as some are unsuitable for pets (some human ones will cause nasty side-effects), and your pet must be monitored while taking them. However they can transform some elderly animals and ease pain considerably.

Analgesics

We use some pain relieving medications in older animals and these come from a variety of drug classes and affect the way our brains perceive pain – they maust be used with care and we monitor closely for side effects.

The future

There are a number of exciting possible therapies to assist with osteoarthritis and joint repair that are prohibitively expensive for general practice at present . These include intra-articular injections of stem cells and platelet –rich plasma. The price of these is decreasing and therapy in our clinic may soon be a real possibility !