Arthritis in aging pets & How to help your pet age gracefully
When is a pet considered a senior?
The general rule of thumb is that any dog over 7 is considered a senior, and any dog over 10 is considered geriatric. For cats, similar ages apply, but many consider cats over 10 to be a senior and cats over 13 to be geriatric. Check out this helpful chart to determine your pet’s age equivalent in people years. (Click on the image for larger version)
What are some of the things to look out for in older pets?
Older pets may require veterinary visits every 6 months as opposed to once a year. Older pets can have changes in their mentation, their joints or organ health. More frequent blood work might be recommended to help track changes in a pet’s health at this age. A thorough orthopedic exam can help determine if older pets are experiencing pain.
What are the signs of arthritis in dogs and cats?
Many people assume that a pet will cry or yelp if in pain. In older pets with arthritis we more often see changes in behavior or routines as a manifestation of arthritis. For example, when a cat or dog has hip or knee pain they may be less likely to jump on or off the furniture, or they may hesitate to go up and down stairs. Some people report that their pets avoid walking on certain surfaces where they may slip or that they no longer can get into the car or go on long walks like they used to. Some pets experience weight gain, lethargy and decreased activity levels. These are all possible symptoms when a pet has arthritis. If your pet is exhibiting behavior changes or has stopped doing the things that they used to do check in with your veterinarian. There are many things you can do to help them remain comfortable.
What can I do to help treat my dog or cat’s arthritis?
An examination by your veterinarian is always helpful. They can help to determine where the source of pain might be and come up with a plan to help treat it. For some pets NSAIDS or non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs can help manage the pain. These medication are made specifically for pets and can be prescribed by your veterinarian. (Caution- Please do not give any human medications to your pet! Medications like ibuprofen and Tylenol are extremely toxic to dogs and cats)
You can also provide joint support for your older pet with supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin or fish oils. These supplements work best when given before a pet is experiencing symptoms of arthritis so consider using them earlier in life when they will be of the most benefit. Some of Clinton Veterinary Hospitals favorites include dasuquin for dogs and cosequin for cats. We also like Welactin for a good source of omega 3’s.
Keeping your pet active is also important. Short, more frequent walks are ideal for older pets to keep them mobile. Swimming is a great activity for those who like it.
If you have questions about any of the information or think your pet might have arthritis give us a call. At Clinton Veterinary Hospital we are always happy to come up with a plan that will suit you and your pet’s individual needs!