Wednesday, December 7

Osteoarthritis in dogs and cats: how can I detect it and what can I do to improve it?


Your pet begins to refuse to go up the stairs, does not want to go outside or does not get up as easily as before. On many occasions, all these behaviors go unnoticed by our eyes, mainly because we believe that our dog or cat’s reluctance is due to the fact that “he is already very old, it will be normal”.

Your dog is getting older: this is what you need to know to improve its quality of life

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In fact, you are probably right, since most cases of osteoarthritis in dogs are related to old age, although it can also be due to other factors such as trauma, obesity or genetics.

As explained by a study by Ourofino Animal Health“90% of felines over 12 years of age suffer from osteoarthritis, while 38% of dogs suffer from joint problems.”

To learn a little more about this disease, it is essential to understand the difference between osteoarthritis and arthritis, both of which are very similar in pets and in humans.

Osteoarthritis, also known as osteoarthrosis, is a slow-growing chronic disease that affects mobile joints, mainly the elbow, hip and knee, and degenerates joint cartilage causing difficulty in mobility, stiffness and chronic pain. However, arthritis often stems from another underlying disease that results in inflammation of the synovial membrane.

In most cases, osteoarthritis causes chronic pain that, in the words of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), “is a pain with no apparent biological value, persistent beyond the healing time.” Therefore, it is essential to be aware of any acute pain, to treat it correctly and prevent it from becoming chronic and therefore more difficult to treat.

We should not panic, since early detection allows us to prevent or delay the problem. For this, it is mandatory to observe/monitor the symptoms mentioned in the article. And, if it’s already too late, there are different treatments to improve your quality of life.

However, we must never forget that Veterinary checkups and guidelines They are the best method to accompany that faithful friend who has been walking by your side for so many years in this new stage.

A healthy life can prevent or delay osteoarthritis

We must be realistic: As with humans, it is likely that we cannot prevent our pet from suffering from osteoarthritis, but we can try to prevent it or even delay it by giving it the best care throughout its life.

The guidelines are essential as well as simple, in fact, we will surely be tired of hearing them: a correct diet adapted to your needs and regular veterinary check-up, especially in dogs of breeds with a genetic predisposition, mainly large ones such as the Rottweiler, the golden retriever or the Labrador.

Although, the truth is that there is a totally necessary prevention factor: moderate exercise that keeps you at the right weight, since it is estimated that 52% of dogs and 41% of cats in the US with osteoarthritis, or one in three, are also obese. This is explained by a study carried out in 2019 by the Banfield Pet Hospital.

The symptoms that should raise your alarms

That our pet is unable to verbalize its pain cannot be an excuse for not treating it, that is why it is condition sine qua non know how to recognize heralding symptoms.

Reason why we have compiled a series of them explained in the Canine and Feline Geriatrics Manual by the veterinarian Salvador Cervantes Sala, creator of the reference feline medicine and surgery center in Barcelona, Feline Clinic Barcelona. In both dogs and cats, the symptoms are very similar, despite the fact that the latter usually have a greater ability to hide them.

We must be vigilant because, as Cervantes explains, “in a veterinary session it is very difficult to observe all the changes in the behavior of the animal, so it is important to keep your pet’s medical history up to date and save all the X-rays that the animal has may have had throughout his life to help identify bone changes in joints and nearby tissues.

To give some examples, it may be that your dog or cat no longer feel like interacting with family so much or with other pets, is restless or has an altered facial expression, breathes more quickly, their body temperature varies or their pupils dilate more.

Before I loved your caresses and now pulls away when you touch it in certain areas of its body? It is possible that he reacts this way to touch because the area you are stroking causes him pain.

It may be that your cat no longer jump or climb high places like you used to, make him more aggressive, even licking the painful parts. The same happens in dogs, who also tend to be more tired and irritable.

How can I help treat osteoarthritis?

In addition to the different types of analgesics that your veterinarian administers if he considers it necessary, we must not forget non-medicinal measures They can be the difference between success and failure.

correct nutrition, application of heat, massages, stretching, adapting the house so that it can move easily, buy orthopedic beds or cold-insulating mats, aerobic exercise prescribed by specialized physiotherapists, as well as control and weight loss, are some of the fundamental aspects when your dog has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

Not to mention nutraceuticals, foods or fractions of a food with benefits for health and also for the joints. For example, Cervantes states that glycosaminoglycans such as hyaluronic acid can reduce pain, while omega 3 unsaturated fatty acids such as fish oils rich in EPA and DHA acids are known for their anti-inflammatory effects.

On the other hand, there are complementary non-conventional analgesic measures: “Acupuncture can help in the release of endorphins, in the relaxation of muscle spasm and in the reduction of nociceptive transmission to the spinal cord”, explains the veterinarian.

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