Living well with arthritis
Arthritis is one of those conditions that seems to creep up on people and pets. It starts slowly, maybe caused by an injury when young and it's quite easy to live with it at first. They wake up a little achy, but it eases off as they go through the day, no problems.
However, as time moves on the pain gets a little worse, and your pet's mobility reduces little by little. So slow in fact that it's tough to notice the change.
Until one day you notice that your pet has stopped doing something, like going for as long a walk as before. Or perhaps she has started doing others, like staying in bed longer, or pacing a little around your home whining or meowing for attention.
That's the problem with anything that moves slow - it's hard to notice the change. Like walls changing colour in the sun. Like the grass in your lawn growing. Or like the fact that your old cat hasn't jumped onto your bed for snuggles in a long time. Funny the way slow things just escape our attention.
But don't make the mistake of thinking just because a thing moves slowly it doesn't matter. Or the classic mistake of thinking that it's normal for pets to slow down as they age.
Here's the truth. No sugar coating at all. Arthritis hurts like hell. Not like a ruptured bowel. Not like a broken leg. Those things hurt in a way that makes everyone look because the pain is so instant and acute.
Arthritis is crueller than that. At first, it's an ache, so your pet doesn't complain too much. But as any person who struggles with this condition will tell you. Eventually, arthritic joints hurt like hell. And most pets, sadly, just seem to cope. Or not use the limb as much. Or stop walking so far. Or stop jumping up onto the bed for cuddles.
What makes the pain of arthritis hurt twice as much though is the added anxiety of not being able to do the things we used to enjoy. For your dog to not go for a run after a favourite ball is stressful. For your old cat who can no longer patrol his garden territory is a daily world of anxiety.
How to tell if your pet might have arthritis
Here are five things to look for that might be a sign your pet has arthritis:
1. She doesn't go for walks to jump on the side like she once did.
2. She sleeps more than usual.
3. She seems stiff after getting out of bed or moves gingerly.
4. She paces or seems unsettled at night and whines or meows.
5. She messes in the house or her legs tremble when she tries to go to the toilet.
If your pet shows any of these symptoms, then our advice is to book for a checkup today. And here's why. Arthritis is one of the most manageable old pet diseases around.
How to live well with arthritis
The number one reason a pet may struggle with arthritis is being overweight. So a diet combined with an exercise and pain management program is almost always going to make a huge impact.
Add in the range of supportive treatments with some of the genuinely brilliant diets now available. Laser therapy, supplements, injections, acupuncture, massage, heat and cold therapy. The list is long, but the effects are transformative.
Many pets can be managed without long-term drugs just by addressing weight, diet and using non-drug therapies like laser treatment.
The number two reason pets struggle with arthritis is because it can be easy to misinterpret the symptoms. If you have a cat or dog older than ten years or displaying any of the top five signs we mentioned above (especially stiffness or slowing down), then please book an appointment with a vet asap.