Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Hope for Sore Joints in Dogs and Cats

The TV and magazines are full of advertisements on a multitude of stuff that will help a person with joint pain.  Rub this on, buy this gadget, see XYZ.  Those of us who suffer the pain, often spend the money buying these things, but really, we should be consulting our doctor!

Dr Liz with Lillie's leg! Lillie ended up having a cruciate injury
 Our pets deserve the same care.  They deserve a check up at the vets, even if you are not sure if they are in pain or not. 

One in five dogs suffer from joint pain - is your pet one of them?  And as for cats, it has been estimated at 1 in 3!

 Most of us know what joint pain feels like, but many loving pet owners still deny that their pet may be in pain (whether it is dental or joint).

Well, our pets do get joint pain, and they do suffer from it. 

 They just don't complain about it, they don't cry out in pain, they don't whinge about it, and they, overall, well..... don't complain.

I will bet you that you have noticed your older pet sleeping more than usual during the winter months, and have said to yourself - "That is normal, that is just old age, and it is cold after all."

As a vet, I see it all the time - the dog with muscle wastage on the back legs, the struggling to get up or down (and the blame on the slippery floors), the owner who says that their dog sleeps for days after the one long walk on the weekend.  These are the dogs that should be assessed for arthritis. 

George - our resident "Stray"
As for our cats, well they have joints, and by definition, get arthritis too.  Who notices that their cat sleeps more than usual?  No one does, because cats like to sleep. 

But the signs you may notice is, again, the muscle wastage on the back legs, the slowness in getting down or up stairs, and the unwillingness to jump on or off the bed.  Sometimes they will have the matted coat along the  lower back or legs because they can't groom.

 We have noticed those signs in our cat, Pusski!  He will not be happy once he hears of our "joint plan" for him (as it will involved injections). 

George (our resident "Stray"), is on Feline j/d as well as Meloxicam.  If you ever come in to see him, you will see that he has improved significantly since he was brought in. (to find out more about George, why not go here).

As a vet, I look at many different aspects of joint support in all of the pets that I see.

I may recommend
  • joint supplements
  • special exercises,
  •  massage therapy,
  • nutritional support injections and/or
  •  medications. 

What is best for your pet?  I won't know until I get a chance to do the "laying of hands" on them. If you aren't from my area, why not check out  your local vet this winter, and see if they are doing any special arthritis checks?  You might be surprised! I know I am not the only one offering FREE Arthritis Checks in the world, but I don't know who else is offering this locally. 

Here are some important facts....

Shadow, is a high risk breed,
stays slim and active to protect
his joints!
  • High risk dog breeds are Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers, but even the smaller ones (such as poodles and shihtzus, with luxating patellars, also suffer)
  • A pet's weight is a key factor in many pets on how rapidly the signs show, and weight loss is instrumental for controlling signs.
  • Depression  may be the only sign your pet shows
  • The majority of pets 7 years of age or older will have some "wear and tear" on their joints (like us who have hit 40 and above!).
  • One in FIVE dogs are suffering from arthritis - is your dog possibly one of them?

Does your pet have arthritis?

Many times, I see owners who are not aware that their pet is suffering from arthritis, and are shocked to hear that their pet was in pain, and didn't know it.  That is what veterinarians are for - to check for this, and to offer you the best advice on how to help. 

At Russell Vale Animal Clinic, we offer FREE dental checks all year round, and this year (2014) we are happy to start (for the first time ever) "  FREE Arthritis Checks", starting from 1st of July 2014 until the 30th of September 2014. 

It is up to YOU now - depending on  how popular these checks are, on whether we will extend the "FREE Arthritis Check " to all year round.... so bring your pet(s) in, get their joints checked out for free, pass it on, pass it forward, give someone else's pet a chance for a pain free winter!  The more who come in, the more likely we are to extend the offer!

How young is too young to start supplements?

Our dog "Piper", otherwise known as "my problem child"
who was diagnosed with Hip dysplasia when she was
6.5 months old (in May 2014). She is a "high risk"
dog for arthritis, and she is started on a preventative plan.


Well, you are never too young, as I have seen arthritis in pets as young as 6 months of age (it is heartbreaking to tell a loving pet owner, that their young puppy has arthritis secondary to elbow dysplasia, or hip dysplasia).

For our dog Piper, who has hip dysplasia, we have already started her on "joint medications" as soon as we knew the diagnosis, and have developed a joint plan for her.   She currently does not have any radiographic signs of arthritis, but we aren't going to wait for that... we have opted to prevent!

So let's get personal!

With Piper, as soon as we knew of her diagnosis of hip dysplasia, we started her on Meloxicam, a non steroidal anti-inflammatory.  It was confirmed on radiographs and CT scanning at the specialists that she did not have any arthritis. This made her the excellent candidate for her pelvic surgery.

We know, that despite our best efforts with surgery, that she is likely to develop osteoarthritis. Hopefully, not to the degree that would mean a hip replacement.

Her arthritis prevention plan - (yes, I am talking about preventing it here), includes
  • 4 injections of Synovan weekly, then she will get it monthly for life.
  • Joint guard chews daily when the injections are finished
  • Hills Canine j/d for life
  • Muscle massage, swimming, sit to stand exercises and gentle walks (when she is fully recovered from her pelvic surgery)
And, importantly, this plan will be reassessed each six months for the rest of her life.

So, get those fingers moving - you can book your pet's FREE arthritis check online, or via email, or the traditional phone call on 42 845 988.

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet at Russell Vale Animal Clinic, and the owner of Piper, Pusski and Dash (at home), aswell as George (the resident "Stray") and Pandora (the boss) at work.

An addendum:

What are the typical signs of arthritis?

  • Difficulty standing or sitting (often their legs will shake)
  • Favouring a limb
  • Decreased activity or thinking twice before chasing the ball
  • Attitude changes
  • Stiff or sore joints
  • Being less alert
  • Reluctance to jump, run or climb stairs
  • Weight gain
  • Sleeping more
But, often, I see pets who sleep more after a good normal run on the beach, so don't let your pet fool you.