Look: Arthritis and prevention

rthritis, or inflammation of the joints, affects dogs and cats just as it does humans. If lef untreated, the disease can cause irreversible
joint damage, resulting in pain and restricting a pet’s
ability to move or sit comfortably. Because pets,
particularly cats, are good at hiding signs of discomfort,
and because the signs of arthritis can be hard to
distinguish from those of other diseases, arthritis is
likely more common than currently reported.
Management of arthritis largely depends on the
severity of the disease. For mild arthritis, treatment
is usually conservative and may involve lifestyle
changes (
e.g., weight loss), anti-inflammatory
medications to treat the pain and inflammation,
moderate exercise, physical therapy, hydrotherapy and
nutritional supplementation. For moderate to severe
arthritis, veterinarians may prescribe more powerful
medications and/or recommend surgery, depending
on the pet’s condition.

Bottom line

• The prevalence of arthritis has increased 38 percent
in dogs and 67 percent in cats over the past fve
years.
• In 2011, 13 percent of geriatric dogs were diagnosed
with arthritis.
• Nearly 1 in 4 (22 percent) geriatric large and giant
breed dogs are diagnosed with arthritis.
About 1 in 3 arthritic dogs (40 percent) and cats
(37 percent) were also overweight.
• While arthritis affects pets of all ages, the average age
of dogs diagnosed with arthritis is 9 and the average
age of cats diagnosed with arthritis is 12.

Signs of arthritis

Signs of arthritis vary greatly from dog to cat. Signs
most ofen noticed in dogs can range from a mild
decrease in activity level and stiffness when standing
up, to limping, muscle loss, abnormal gait and sitting
positions and reluctance to jump or climb stairs. Signs
in cats are subtle, even with severe arthritis, and may
only involve decreased activity or changes in normal
activity or behavior.

Dr. Adam Wiechmann, Ellsworth veterianarian, performs a standard health checkup on Matilda, a three – month old Maltese, at the vet clinic at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 23, 2012. Pet owners are encouraged to bring their pets to the vet clinic for standard health checkups and evaluations, especially while their pets are young, to prevent the onset and spread of diseases among domesticated animals. For further information, contact the Ellsworth Veterinary Clinic at 605-385-1589. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anania Tekurio/Released)

Preventive recommendation

If lef undiagnosed, or untreated, arthritis can
signifcantly impact the overall quality of a pet’s life

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