I was told my dog has arthritis. He is a Golden Retriever and only 6 years old. What can I do for him?
Arthritis (inflammation of the joints), is the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs, and is also present in cats. It can affect pets of any age. However the first step is to make sure you have the proper diagnosis, because other diseases can cause similar symptoms. Some of these diseases can eventually lead to arthritis as well.
They include those spread by ticks (Lymes, Anaplasma, Erlichia, etc), torn ligaments, tumors, metabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases, hip and elbow dysplasia etc. So it is not always so cut and dry.
It's important to get a proper diagnosis from your veterinarian. A physical exam should be performed, and based on the findings x-rays, and blood work may also be recommended. It is important not to jump to the conclusion, that he or she just has arthritis.
The signs of arthritis can include stiffness, difficulty getting up or down, jumping, difficulty with steps, limping, joint swelling, being less active, and appearing to slow down. Once the diagnosis of arthritis has been made, there are different approaches, to making our pets more comfortable. Ours is one using both a holistic and conventional approach.
Making sure your pet is not overweight is very important, as the extra weight puts more stress on the joints. Supplements, such as omega 3 fatty acids, and glucosamine/chondroitn sulfate can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis.
Injectable polyaminoglycans (Adequan), can be very helpful as well. There are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and other pain medications that can be used by your veterinarian to help control pain. This requires monitoring blood work, to make sure the pet is not made sick by the medication.
Acupuncture, (Dr. Raclyn and I are certified veterinary acupuncturists) is used to help alleviate pain, and improve quality of life. Very often we use a combination of therapies, with the goal of getting the best results with the least amount of side affects. Your veterinarian can help guide you through the different supplements, medicine and treatments to be instituted.
So if your pet seems to be suffering from chronic pain, or any of the symptoms discussed, dog or cat, get him checked out and make a plan for helping to improve his quality of life.
Dr. Kasanofsky is a veterinarian with Yorktown Animal Hospital. He has appeared on television and radio, including Animal Planet, Westchester News, and has lectured at various dog and cat club meetings about Alternative and Complementary Veterinary Medicine. He is a delegate of the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture, and a Teaching Assistant for the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society certification course.
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