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Arthritis in dogs and cats
What is arthritis?
Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joint and affects dogs and cats just as it does humans. There are three major types of arthritis in dogs and cats: osteoarthritis; septic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The first form of arthritis, which is also the most common form, is caused by bone problems, the second by bacterial infection and the third by immune system malfunction. Arthritis damages the smooth elastic tissue called cartilage between the bones of joints and can be a source of chronic pain, which impacts negatively on the overall quality of your pet’s life.
How to recognize arthritis?
Some signs of arthritis, such as limping or lameness are more obvious. In chronic cases muscle tissues at the affected area start dying off leading to muscle atrophy. Less obvious signs which indicate your pet is uncomfortable and probably suffering from arthritis include fatigue, irritability, abnormal posture, difficulty walking or climbing stairs or jumping, and licking, chewing or biting excessively in one area. Usually cats are less active than dogs, which makes it is even more difficult to detect these signs in affected cats. It is better to talk to your pet vet for advice if you think your pet is slowing down or detect other behavioural changes.
Does arthritis affect dogs and cats of all ages?
Yes. However, it is more common in aging dogs and cats. In fact, it is the most frequent cause of chronic pain in geriatric dogs and cats.
How about breed susceptibility?
Large and heavy breeds of dogs and cats are more susceptible to arthritis compared to smaller breeds. Some examples of such dog breed are Labrador, German Shepard, and Mastiff and in cats examples include Himalayan, Persian, Siamese, or Domestic long hair breeds.
What are the ways to prevent arthritis in dogs and cats?
Keep your pets at a healthy weight. Regular exercises and balanced diets are important determinants of maintaining a healthy weight.
Seek advice from your veterinarian immediately if you notice stiffness, limping, slowing down, gait changes or other behavioural changes in your cat or dog.
Therapeutic diets containing nutrients that help to resolve arthritis can be used. However, to minimize the risk of undesirable effects of using such diets, it is highly recommended to use these diets under supervision of a veterinarian.
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