Osteoarthritis (OA) is likely to effect most animals at some time in their lives. It’s been shown that 60% of dogs and cats over the age of 6 have OA in one or more joints. As pet’s age, that percentage increases to over 82%. Much can be done to elevate pain and provide excellent quality of life for our pets with OA.
1) Manage your pets weight: This is one of the most important aspect of OA management. Your veterinarian can help you formulate a weight loss program.
2) Relieve the pain: Many safe and effective medications are available to cats and dogs to elevate pain. Using a multimodal pain management approach, where pain is treated using medications that work differently from each other, works the best. Remember that many medications used for people to mange OA are toxic and sometimes fatal to dogs and cats. Your veterinarian can design a pain management regimen that is specific for your pet. It is also possible to treat hard to medicate pets since mediations can now be custom formulated using transdermal (applied to the skin) and pleasantly flavored medications that’s pets actually enjoy.
3) Exercise: Steady moderate exercise is very important for keeping muscle mass and strength. For cats this is easily accomplished through enrichment of the indoor environment. Please see our blog on indoor enrichment for great ideas (Dog Activities and Cat Activities). Keeping your pet active is great for joints and fun for you and your pet.
4) Make some minor changes in your home: Small changes, such as cutting an entrance to the litter box and providing carpet runners on the floor in slippery areas, can go a long way to help your pet be comfortable. Please ask your veterinarian for the many other easy tips to help your pet with OA.
Millions of dogs and cats suffer with OA. Thank goodness there is a lot we can do to help our pets live a comfortable and happy life with OA.