Your furry friend was always so happy to run and play whenever they got the chance? but perhaps they're not as spry as they used to be? You've noticed that your dog no longer greets you at the door. Your cat no longer jumps at the window. You could try to convince yourself that they are simply getting a little older and wiser. But there may be a physical reason for this decline in their activity: osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic and degenerative condition of the joints. If your pet is, indeed, suffering from osteoarthritis, their movements will become increasingly difficult and painful. You must know that osteoarthritis doesn't only affect older cats and dogs. Young animals can also suffer from the disease.
If your vet diagnoses osteoarthritis, they will also tell you that, for the moment, there isn't a cure. However, your vet will be able to help you with ways to reduce discomfort and improve mobility. Of course, it also makes sense to act quickly, as soon as you see the signs, so that your pet can enjoy the best quality of life possible. What are the signs? Here are a few:
- your pet sleeps and lays about more frequently;
- they look for new, unusual places to sleep (soft and warm or hard and cold);
- they struggle to get up when lying down and they appear to limp;
- they don't seem to have any appetite and so, lose weight;
- their joints are swollen and hot to the touch; they may lick or even bite the painful joint;
- they don't want to be touched.
If it turns out that your pet does have osteoarthritis, your vet can propose treatment that will slow the progression of the disease and efficiently relieve pain. Treatment is comprised of three main elements: weight control, exercise and administering non-steroid based anti-inflammatory medication. Your vet may also suggest complementary treatments like physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture, and functional foods (nutriceuticals), such as glucosamine and chondroitin.
Don't hesitate to consult your family veterinarian so that they can arrive at the right diagnosis and provide you with advice that's right for your pet's condition.