Written By Dr. Jessie Dreyfuss, DVM, CVA, CCRT
If you have ever owned a pet, you have come to realize the typical signs of aging – slow to get into and out of the car, more reluctant to get up off that comfy bed or sofa in the morning, sleeping more often and for longer, etc. But did you know that these changes could be a sign of painful pet arthritis?
In some animals, the signs can be more …. directly informative. You may receive a quick bite or snap if you try to touch your pet’s backs or go near their hips. Your pet may start to urinate or defecate in the house because making it to that back door or front door is just too far for them with their painful condition. Your pet is in pain.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is defined as an inflammation of a joint or multiple joints. This tends to accumulate over time. Therefore, as the cartilage of the joint starts to degrade, the joint endures pain, inflammation, and even restricted motion. This means it hurts to get up, walk, or even move.
How can pet arthritis be diagnosed?
Arthritis can be definitively diagnosed by X-rays. Your veterinarian can identify the suspicion of arthritis via thorough orthopedic and neurological examinations.
What options exist for treating pet arthritis?
Typically, your veterinarian will prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication (such as Carprofen, Rimadyl, Rovera, Previcox, etc.) . This medication does not stop the advancement of pet arthritis – rather it will take away the inflammation associated with the constant bone-on-bone contact. Unfortunately, studies have demonstrated that anti-inflammatory medications can damage the liver and the kidney significantly.
Fortunately, there are now holistic options for your pet – including acupuncture, laser therapy, herbal therapy and supplements, and physical therapy.
Why acupuncture for arthritis?
Acupuncture has been utilized extensively in the human field for managing pain and more. Extremely thin needles are placed in precise locations on the body where there are bundles of nerves, arteries, and more. By stimulating these areas, we are encouraging the body to release healing mast cells, bring in ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters like endorphins and dopamine, and call for the avalanche of reparative cytokines.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, pet acupuncture comes with minimal to no side effects. You can learn more about acupuncture by clicking here.
Why laser therapy?
Laser therapy utilizes low-level light therapy to encourage ATP (the fuel of our cells) release from the cells. So with this extra energy present, the cells can get to work healing the parts of the body that need it most – especially the arthritic joints.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, laser therapy comes with minimal to no side effects. You can learn more about laser therapy by clicking here.
Physical therapy for pets is a new and growing field. If you have a chronic injury or painful joint, where do most doctors send you? They send you to physical therapy and physical therapists!
It makes sense that we should offer the same level and standard of care to our pets. Physical therapy for dogs and cats can help improve that restricted motion, decrease pain through various modalities, and more. Modalities such as TENS unit and underwater treadmill can help humans and animals alike!
You can learn more about rehabilitation therapy by clicking here.
Why herbal therapy and supplements?
In China, herbal therapies are utilized every day to help with daily ailments. Ginger – the key element of ginger ale – is an herbal therapy that is recommended with any tummy upset. Aspirin is made from the bark of the willow tree. In truth, we utilize herbal therapies a lot more than we realize.
Herbal therapies can help decrease your pet’s pain naturally. I strongly recommend several herbal therapies even when a pet is on an oral anti-inflammatory.
How can you help your pet with arthritis at home?
- Sturdy footing – Get some yoga mats from YogaDirect.com or from TJ Maxx. If your pet can’t grip the floor, then they certainly will not want to even try to get up.
- Great harness – Protect your back and their back! You need a good, strong, washable harness that doesn’t require you to bend all the way down to pick up your pet. We love the Help Em’ Up Harness and sell this product in our clinic. It’s important to make sure that this harness fits appropriately – so be sure to bring your pet in for a free fitting.
- Orthopedic beds – Check back to future blogs about the best orthopedic bed you can buy your pet!