Arthritis is a very common disorder that occurs in pets, but is also a disorder that can be prevented and effectively managed to minimize the pain and suffering usually associated with this condition. As a pet owner, you should be on the lookout for subtle signs of this degenerative disease, so you are able to quickly become involved in providing assistance. Early detection will allow steps to be taken to lessen pain and alleviate more damage.
What Causes Arthritis in Dogs and Cats?
Arthritis in dogs and cats can arise from stress or trauma to joints, congenital defects such as hip dysplasia and infections that affect joint tissues. The cartilage in these joints can wear away faster than it can be regenerated and the bony substance beneath the cushioning cartilage could be exposed and result in swelling and inflammation. Elastic tissues of the joint become stiffer and calcium deposits occur on the joint making movement painful.
Unfortunately, an animal’s survival tactics are such that they hide pain and discomfort, so when a dog or cat is really limping or whining from pain, joint degeneration may be in very advanced stages. Watch for subtle changes in your pet: increased weight gain, sleeping more, less interest in playing, and change in attitude or alertness. Alert your veterinarian when you see these signs and they will be able to give you some options as to the best course of action.
Cat and Dog Arthritis Treatment
There are ways you can help your pet manage arthritis. Keeping your pet’s body weight at a healthy level and decreasing any excess weight will improve mobility by lessening stress, pressure and friction on the joints. Allowing your pet to sleep on a pillow or something soft and warm will also help the pain associated with arthritis.
There has been evidence that certain nutraceuticals supplements, such as Doc Roy’s® Aches Away Plus, contain ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) to help arthritic patients. Benefits are not seen right away when using these types of supplements. However, after a few weeks to months of use, significant improvements in mobility and attitude have been observed without the side effects of some pharmaceuticals.
Glucosamine for Dogs and Cats
Glucosamine is a natural compound and is involved in the body’s production of joint lubricants and shock absorption necessary to maintain healthy cartilage and joint function. It stimulates the building blocks of cartilage and inhibits the production of enzymes that break cartilage down. Glucosamine also plays a role in the formation of nails, tendons, skin, eyes, synovial fluid, bone, ligaments, heart valves, and in proteins associated with cellular growth and structure.
Chondroitin Sulfate for Dogs and Cats
Chondroitin sulfate is another common ingredient used for arthritic joints. It is usually used in combination with glucosamine and aids in the repair of damaged connective tissues. It helps keep cartilage tissue from dehydrating and protects existing cartilage from premature breakdown. The pet’s own body produces chondroitin sulfate, so an alternative to administering this ingredient is to provide the pet with the building blocks to help the pet make its own chondroitin. This can be accomplished by using a supplement that contains methylsulfonylmethane, which is a dietary source of sulfur.
MSM for Dogs and Cats
MSM or methylsulfonylmethane, is a dietary derivative of DMSO, which is a major course of sulfur and is also an ingredient that is rapidly absorbed by the body. Studies have shown that osteoarthritic joints have lower sulfur content than normal joints, so giving a sulfur supplement will help slow joint deterioration.
Arthritis can be a very debilitating and painful disease for pets. If you watch them closely and provide proper care, you can slow the deterioration of their joints and help relieve the pain associated with this condition. Nutraceutical products have proven to be very successful, so if your pet has the beginnings of arthritis, make sure to try them!