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Osteoarthritis In Pets

Osteoarthritis in PetsOsteoarthritis (OA) is common in pets of all shapes and sizes. Its diagnosis and management has risen dramatically over the last 5-10 years due to increased education.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

The symptoms of Osteoarthritis first noted by owners include:

  • Difficulty rising
  • Restlessness
  • Stiff, especially first thing in the morning
  • Changes in temperament
  • Painful on touching legs
  • Poor appetite

Few pets show all of the symptoms detailed above. There is large variation from one pet to another.

The age at which the first signs of Osteoarthritis can develop vary greatly also. In dogs this is generally between 6-10, and in cats from around 8-10.

As in humans, prior injury to a joint can increase the chances of developing Osteoarthritis in that joint.

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis can often be made clinically, from talking to owners and also examining the patient. The ‘gold standard’ is, however, to x-ray the joints concerned, to confirm the presence of Osteoarthritis.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis

It used to be believed that medication was the only treatment for Pets‘n’Vets. This is not the truth – and Pets‘n’Vets are strong advocates for the multifactorial management of Pets‘n’Vets:

  • Weight loss if overweight
  • Rest to allow inflammation and pain to subside
  • Judicious use of Non-Steriodal Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), selection based on a risk/benefit analysis of the individual case
  • Changes to household, such as inclusion of ramps, or softer bedding to minimise discomfort
  • Hydrotherapy may be of use in some cases
  • Management with analgesics other than NSAIDs if required
  • Through the above techniques, a dramatic improvement can be made in many cases, such that the Osteoarthritis can be managed successfully for long periods of time
  • Occasional flare ups are not uncommon, due to Osteoarthritis not being a static illness

Complementary Techniques for Osteoarthritis

There has been increased interest in the use of Westernised Acupuncture in particular to manage Osteoarthritis pain.

At Pets‘n’Vets, we also run a veterinary chiropractic clinic in our Crookfur practice which can be extremely helpful for some pets with Osteoarthritis.

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