Sunday, April 4, 2010
Relief for pets with arthritis
In this episode:
Pet Joke of the Week: Top 10 Dogs Peeves About Humans
Personal Comment: Relief for Pets with Arthritis
Transcript of personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:
For my personal comment this evening, I chose perhaps the most common disease of dogs and cats, arthritis. Arthritis, causes chronic pain, adversely affects patient quality of life, and in the advanced stages, can be utterly debilitating. These days, however, your pet does not necessarily need to suffer, with both holistic and medical treatments that go a long way toward keeping arthritic patients comfortable, even turning back the clock on disease.
Let us begin by defining arthritis, since many pet owners do not fully understand what the term completely means. Many think arthritis is a stiff and painful joint, which is more the outcome of arthritis, than the actual term. Arthritis simply put, means inflammation of a joint. It occurs most commonly from age related wear and tear of joints, but can occur in younger patients as the result of genetic joint deformities like hip dysplasia, injury to a joint, or severe obesity.
Whatever the cause, arthritis leads to the breaking down of the cartilaginous surfaces of a joint followed by, in the body's attempt to protect itself, the laying down of bone where soft, articulating cartilage used to be, and a subsequent stiff, less mobile joint. This process is known as degenerative joint disease or DJD.
So what do we do when our pet has arthritis and/or DJD? Well, let us start with what you should NOT do.
- Don't allow your pet to get fat. Obesity will cause early onset arthritis and will accelerate the progression of arthritis.
- Don't try to self medicate your pets with over the counter human grade pain relievers. Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and Tylenol are highly toxic to dogs, leading to dangerous, even deadly consequences.
- Don't waste your time with commercially sold joint health nutritional supplements. These products are no FDA regulated, with many subsequently regularly found to lack the ingredients they claim to have. Opt instead for veterinary grade nutritional supplements as recommended by your vet.
Step one of arthritis and DJD management is to recognize if you pet is overweight. Obese arthritic patients' quality of life often improves greatly just from weight reduction decreasing stress on the joints. Reducing food or opting for a weight management diet can go a long way in managing arthritis.
For early stage arthritis, I like to engage in a holistic approach to making the the joint less inflamed ,stronger, and more stable. In this regard, I like to combine the oral joint health supplement Dasuquin, with injectable Adequan. These nutraceuticals, as they are called, contain powerful collagen building products, as well as natural anti-inflammatory agents. The net result is the body gets a strong boost in its own ability to restore cartilage and other connective tissues and reduce inflammation.
If there are specific areas of DJD that are markedly affected, as is often the case with the hips or shoulders, combing nutraceuticals with regular treatments with a therapeutic low level laser is invaluable. Therapeutic laser delivers low level photons of energy to an injured joint, opening the blood vessels to more efficiently deliver healing cells, provide energy to cells to absorb nutrients faster for optimal tissue regeneration, and stimulate trigger points to relieve pain and inflammation. The laser is perhaps the most profound technological advancement in the field of arthritis management.
For more advanced cases, holistic approach with nutraceuticals therapy laser are still invaluable, but at least in the early phases of treatment, for pain relief and inflammation reduction, it is s good idea to start the patient on a good veterinary grade anti-inflammatory pain reliever. For dogs, I favor Previcox for its exceptional safety profile for long term use. However, since Previcox is still a drug that must me ultimately processed by the liver and kidneys, I engage aggressively with holistic management to try to wean the patient off it, or at least scale back doses to a minimum.
Cats generally do not do well with anti-inflammatory pain relievers, even veterinary grade ones, making weight and holistic management all the more important for this species. Once disease gets so advanced that holistic management no longer is able to keep the patient comfortable, oral or injectable corticosteroids can be used.
So if you have a stiff, painful pet, don't let him suffer needlessly, as you can see there are many options for management of arthritis and degenerative joint disease. If your pet is fat, begin by making a concerted effort to get weight off, then schedule a consultation with your vet to begin a proactive approach to regaining a good quality of life for your pet.
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Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.