Many pets have a high threshold for pain caused by arthritis, but as a pet ages, the likelihood of developing some form of arthritis is common. Pets with arthritis develop pain in the joints and often require medication or natural supplements to help alleviate the soreness and pain they feel. Prevention of arthritis in elderly pets is often impossible. Although healthy weight management throughout the life of your pet may help prevent join injuries and can minimize the discomfort pets may experience. Surgical intervention may also be an option in some cases. It’s important to remember that in most cases, degenerative changes to a joint cannot be reversed so the goal of treatment is to slow the progression of arthritis and manage pain.
Your vet can offer many options to help alleviate symptoms caused by arthritis and many of these options are covered by pet insurance.
Signs of Arthritis in Pets
- Favoring a limb
- Difficulty sitting or standing
- Sleeping more
- Seeming to have stiff or sore joints
- Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs
- Weight gain
- Decreased activity or interest in play
- Attitude or behavior changes (including increased irritability)
- Being less alert
Signs of arthritis often are similar to signs of normal aging, so if your pet seems to have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, the best thing to do is to have your veterinarian examine them, and then advise you as to what treatment plan would be best to help your pet deal with the pain. Arthritis treatments for pets are similar to those for humans, and may include:
- Healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight.
- Working with your veterinarian to find a drug treatment that helps relieve the pain.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): the most common treatment for arthritis in dogs. These drugs are similar to ibuprofen, aspirin, and other human pain relievers. However, never give a NSAID for people (over-the-counter or prescription) to your pet unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian; some of these drugs (such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen) can be toxic for pets.
- Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both may help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
- A veterinarian-prescribed NSAID and an over-the-counter treatment that together may help decrease pain and disease progression.
- Diets with special supplements may also help decrease the discomfort and increase the joint mobility
Do not give human pain medications to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian. Some human products, including over-the-counter medications, can be fatal for pets.
For more information about help for elderly pets, read our blog.