So many animals come into the clinic with arthritis problems. Just like in humans, animals can develop arthritis and become stiff as they age. If you are someone who has arthritis, than you can relate to these animals and how they feel. It can be a very uncomfortable and debilitating disease. So in human medicine there are options to try to make you feel better- but what about animals?
One great option is physical therapy. Water therapy, range of motion exercises, balancing boards, and even a therapy laser! We just got a therapy laser at our clinic and the amount of things it can be used for is amazing. Between incisions after surgery, to wounds, ear inflammation, anal gland impaction, soft tissue injuries, and even arthritis (just to name a few!). One of the great aspects of physical therapy is there are not side effects, the exercises help to make the animal feel better. While yes, some animals need multiple therapies to help them feel better, adding other things like physical therapy can help reduce how much is needed. The biggest set back of physical therapy is time. It involves dedication with multiple treatments at first and then going down as they improve.
Other options then include joint supplements, which again, have very few to no side effects. They have special ingredients (one being glucosamine chondroitin) that help with cartilage formation and health. Once cartilage begins to break down between joints, bone rubs on bone, which causes discomfort and increases arthritis. The biggest thing to know about joint supplements is you can start them when they are young! If you know you are going to have a large breed animal, or a pet that will be very active, starting them when they are young will help to support their healthy tissue and hopefully prolong arthritic problems.
The next step- pain medications. There are a variety of medications out there. Some that have been developed just for arthritis while others are generalized pain medications. While pain medications can be very helpful, they do come with more side effects, so monitoring is important.
The biggest idea of helping to treat osteoarthritis is using multiple methods and treatments to make them comfortable. With patience and commitment, you pet can start to feel like themselves again.