Did you that elderly pets, just like people, can develop arthritis? Arthritis is simply inflammation of joints and can affect the legs, toes, back, and neck area in dogs and cats. Arthritis leads to stiffness, soreness and possibly limping. The symptoms of arthritis can sometimes be passed off as your pet just “getting old” and seem like a natural part of life. However, diagnosis and treatment of arthritis may greatly improve your pet’s quality of life by decreasing pain and allowing them to continue doing the activities that they love.
There are several changes in your pet’s normal behavior that can serve as a sign that they may be experiencing pain in their joints. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Unwillingness to jump onto furniture or into/out of the vehicle
- Unwillingness to go up or down stairs
- Very slow to rise or difficulty getting out of bed or off of the floor
- Cats unwilling to jump onto their cat tree or other places that they have always perched
- Legs splay out when walking on slick surfaces such as hardwood floors or tile
- Unwilling or unable to participate in their usual activities such as long walks or chasing a ball
- Unusual posture when eliminating (for example, no longer able to assume a “squatting” position when having a bowel movement)
- Persistent limp that may resolve or improve after the pet has moved around during the day
Although arthritis cannot be completely reversed, there are treatments than can decrease the inflammation in the joints, medications to treat the pain, and supplements to help improve the joint integrity. If your pet needs additional help, there are more intensive treatments that we have available such as rehabilitation services, acupuncture, or stem cell therapy.
If you suspect your pet is showing signs of pain or may have arthritis, please give us a call so we can schedule an evaluation. While we often prescribe medications, joint supplements, and exercises to improve mobility, we may also recommend making adjustments to your pet’s environment that will allow them to be as comfortable as possible. Some of the modifications include:
- Covering slick floors with rugs or runners to allow for better grip
- Elevating food and water bowls to prevent strain on the neck and back when eating and drinking
- Providing orthopedic bedding with plenty of supportive padding
- For those pets that sleep in your bed, providing a set of steps up or assisting them in getting in and out of bed
- Purchasing or building ramps to use over outdoor stairs and to load/unload into a vehicle
- Providing lower perching areas for cats with steps or furniture to assist themselves up
- Buying litter boxes with a very low lip/wall to make it easier for cats to climb in and out
- Purchasing an assistance device if needed for your dog, such as a harness with a handle, paw pad traction kits, or a sling to assist them outside
By working with your veterinarian and making modifications at home, it is possible to significantly improve your pet’s quality of life as they get older. We want to work with you to make sure that your elderly pet lives life to the fullest, so give us a call at 318-797-5522 so we can help.