Arthritis is a condition involving inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis in cats, just like people, is characterized by stiffness, limping or favouring a limb, especially after waking or lying in one spot for a long time. Arthritis, while it cannot be cured can be managed in many ways – nutritionally or medically.
While there are many contributing factors of arthritis in dogs, the degree of arthritis is frequently relative to the age of the animal. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA) which is also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). Some common causes of arthritis include hip dysplasia, obesity, and cruciate ligament rupture.
As a general rule a combination of nutritional and medical management is usually used to help control the symptoms of arthritis in pets. There are now joint diets for both cats and dogs: foods which contain glucosamines, chrondtin, antioxidants and omega 3 and 6 that help lubricate the joints, making it easier for the pets to move. Medically, the use of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) on a daily or as-needed basis can be effective. Before starting an NSAID program your veterinarian will require your pet to have blood work to ensure that their liver and kidneys are functioning correctly as most NSAIDS are metabolized through these organs. With long-term NSAID use regular blood work will be required. It is important to select these medications with care since some pets are more sensitive than others to the potential side effects of analgesics. There is also the option of using steroid injections such as Adequan or Cartophen which at first need to be injected weekly and will require maintenance doses throughout the life of the pet. Best to contact your veterinarian to discuss what is best for your pet.