Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease whereby pain and stiffness develops as a result of wear and tear on the joints. In the normal joint the bony surfaces which meet and rub together are covered by a thin layer of cartilage which allows smooth movement of the joint. The moving parts of the joint are encased in a bag (capsule) filled with synovial fluid which acts as a lubricant and provides the joint with nutrition. Wear and tear may reach a stage where areas of cartilage become worn, exposing the underlying bone. This can cause pain and impaired movement. The joints most susceptible are the hips, knees and back. It is not possible to cure arthritis but it is vital to help relieve the painful and debilitating nature of this disease.
Early action means treatment will be more effective and you should keep an eye out for clues that may indicate increased pain and stiffness such as:
It is often only after the pain has been relieved that you realize how stiff your pet had become.
Examination by the vet is often enough to diagnose arthritis and to identify which jots are affected. Sometimes x-rays or manipulation under sedation or general anaesthesia are also required to confirm the diagnosis. Once an accurate diagnosis has been made a treatment protocol can be determined.
The following measures can be undertaken to improve arthritis in your pet and the resultant pain (treatment for cats and dogs may differ):