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Arthritis in Cats
By understanding all the various ways in which a joint can be damaged, you can better assist your pet in coping with arthritis, the most common source of chronic pain in pets.
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Arthritis in Cats Transcript
I would like to talk to you about problem joints. No, not the kind from the 60's but the type that may be causing your pet pain.
Degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, can occur to a person or pet at any age. It is most common in seniors because of the normal wear and tear process. If a joint is damaged because of trauma or genetic malformation, it will also undergo a vicious cycle of inflammation, pain and degeneration.
First a short anatomy lesson. Our skeletal system has several types of joints but the ones that can make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning or go for a walk are called synovial joints. They are formed where two bones meet and are supposed to move smoothly over each other. This gliding motion is possible because of a special type of material covering the ends of the bones called articular cartilage. The joint is held together by ligaments and a tough, fibrous envelope called the capsule.
Why the anatomy lesson? By understanding all the various ways in which a joint can be damaged, you can better assist your pet in coping with arthritis, the most common source of chronic pain in pets.
It would be marvelous if there was a pill that could cure arthritis, but there isn't one. A commonly used supplement, glucosamine with or without chondroitin sulfate is mistakenly given to pets in hopes of doing just that. These two substances called gylcosaminoglycans are normal building blocks of the articular cartilage. They will not reverse any damage that has already occurred to this specialized shock absorbing material in the joints but will help to keep it as healthy as possible.
Damage to the joint capsule can affect the stability of the joint and also affects its ability to remove impurities from the joint. This capsule also produces the essential lubricating fluid found there.
Since there is no way to cure arthritis and often no way to prevent it, the question is how can we improve the quality of life of our pets that are affected? The best approach is multi-modal: weight loss when indicated, appropriate exercise, and medical management. We are extremely fortunate that there are safe and effective medications and other therapies that can help control the discomfort of arthritis. Please ask your veterinarian about what treatments may be right for your pet.
While on the subject of medications, don't be tempted to use your own medications on your pets or even drugs that have been prescribed for another pet, the side effects can be very serious.
You and your veterinarian working as a team can best insure that your pet keeps moving through life as pain free as possible.