ARTHRITIS VS. CHANGING SEASONS

Did you know that quickly shifting temperatures and cold weather worsen your dog’s arthritis pain? Ask any human with arthritis and they will tell you that when it gets cold outside, their pain gets worse. However, shifting temperatures from hot to cold to hot do the exact same thing, which is what we are experiencing this “winter”! Here are some warning signs and treatment options for your furry friend.

RECOGNIZING YOUR PET’S PAIN

Our kiddos, especially cats, are very good at hiding their pain. Throw in that they can’t tell us that they are hurting and it makes it even more difficult to detect! Here are some common symptoms and warning signs that your pet may be in pain:

Usually these symptoms come on gradually. It takes years for most arthritis to worsen enough to cause pain. Early detection is key to being vigilant and prepared for when arthritis does come knocking.

HOW DO WE DIAGNOSE ARTHRITIC PAIN?

Our pets are pretty good at hiding pain, but we have ways to examine and diagnose this problem with minimal stress.

PHYSICAL EXAM

Yearly physical exams are SO important to early detection and diagnosis of arthritic pain. We usually see the warning signs years before the pain starts.

We can also do a lameness exam and watch how your pet walks and runs. Both of these let us know which joints are affected and give us an idea of how intense the pain is.

x-RAYS

Taking x-rays is the only way to definitively diagnose arthritic changes to your pet’s joints and bones. If we suspect arthritis due to genetics, we usually recommend taking earlier and throughout the life of your pet so we can see it coming. Below are two x-rays, to the left we see healthy dog hips, and to the right, we see arthritic dog hips. There are drastic differences. The comments below each x-ray explain the differences.

Healthy hips

Notice how the bones that plug in and the socket are both round and smooth. The hips are also in the correct position. These are signs of a healthy joint.

Arthritic hips

These hips are severely affected. The bones that plug in are not round like a ball, they are misshapen and very rough. The sockets themselves have flattened out and are not round either.

Even to the untrained eye, arthritic changes are visible on x-rays. That is why x-rays are crucial to diagnosing arthritis. Now, other locations on the skeleton are commonly affected by arthritis as well, and can easily be x-rayed for the same purpose.

MY DOG HAS ARTHRITIS… NOW WHAT?

On the bright side, arthritis is very common and thus we have a variety of strategies to help fight those symptoms!

What can I do from home?

There are quite a few ways you can help prevent and manage arthritis from the comfort of your home!

  • Keep them at a healthy weight: the less weight there is on their joints, the less work they have to do
  • Exercise, exercise: low-impact exercise keeps them trim and lubricates those joints
    • examples of low-impact exercise: walking, swimming
  • Joint supplements: there are many over-the-counter joint supplements that help reduce inflammation and lubricate the joints, both of which decrease pain

These are our two favorite joint supplements! They are not expensive, they work well, and readily available! We usually have them in stock! They can also be purchased at any major pet store.

WHAT CAN MY VET DO FOR ARTHRITIS?

In addition to monitoring this disease, we also have a variety of pharmaceutical options! We commonly start with anti-inflammatories in the NSAID family. These are very safe and come in chewable tablets for ease of use. The next step are neurologic pain medications and/or opioids. These can be used in numerous different combinations and are easy to manage.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

Alternative therapies for pain management can be less stressful than traditional therapies and work very well. We recommend laser therapy and/or acupuncture.

LASER THERAPY

Relaxing and easily administered, laser therapy is very effective and the treatments only take 10-20 minutes. See our blog post We now offer Cold Laser Therapy for more info!

acupunture

Acupuncture is an ancient technique for managing pain and inflammation. Medical-grade acupuncture has similar effects of opioid medications but with less stress and no side effects.

TAKE-HOME POINTS

Arthritis is common, usually slow-going, and very treatable. Drastic weather shifts can exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis, leaving your pet uncomfortable. However, we have decades of research to back up our therapy options and they can all be coordinated to find the combination that best works for your pet’s needs! So relax, we are here to help you and your pet find the answers you are looking for.

QUESTIONS? WANT TO SCHEDULE AN EXAM? cmeSSAGE OR CALL US TODAY!

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