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Arthritis Awareness Month

September is marked as Arthritis Awareness Month in our country. It is important to recognize that people, dogs, and cats suffer daily from this chronic painful, life-altering condition. We all know of a family member, colleague, or friend that suffers from arthritis. Similarly, we all likely know a pet that also suffers from arthritis. We may just not know the symptoms to watch for!

Symptoms in dogs include stiffness of the gait, reluctance to jump on couches or run up and down stairs. Tiredness during walks, panting, pacing and shaking are other symptoms. Cats may show any of these symptoms as well, but also can demonstrate more subtle signs such as inappropriate defecation, over-grooming, matted hair coat, irritability, and vomiting to name a few signs. If your pet has been showing any of these symptoms, it is likely time to help his or her comfort levels by seeking your veterinarian’s advice.

Similar to people, young pets may also be affected by arthritis. Irrespective of age, the quality of life of an arthritic pet can be immensely improved through early diagnosis and treatment. Pets with a history of injuries or previous surgery are more likely to develop signs of arthritis earlier in life. While osteoarthritis is not curable, it is generally manageable with anti-inflammatory medications, appropriate exercise (swimming is a better activity than running is), glucosamine, and other nutritional supplementation and appropriate bedding for the pet. Multimodal therapy is often desirable as the pet ages, as one single intervention will likely not work in the long haul.

From a human perspective, a study in 2012 by the Arthritis Society found that one in three Canadians living with arthritis had to quit working as a result of their condition, making it one of the leading causes of long-term disability in the country. The disease costs the Canadian economy billions of dollars every year, both directly and indirectly in human healthcare costs and lost productivity. Let us educate ourselves and help spread awareness regarding arthritis in people and pets, and fight this chronic painful condition.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinary Dermatologist & Practice Owner
Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.
Twitter @BajwaJangi

Pain Control in Pets: Important Then, Important Now

It has been known for centuries that pain affects a human’s quality of life greatly. This fact holds true not only for acute pain from injuries to muscle, ligament, and orthopedic pain from fractures.  Chronic (or long lasting) pain from spinal disease, arthritis, kidney stones, etc. can cause a much greater degree of distress and affect quality of life negatively.

Surprisingly, the importance of pain has only been given due importance only in the past few decades. Thankfully, during recent times, the importance of pain alleviation in pets’ healing process has become well recognized (duh!). This has led to further research on the existence of pain in pets and how best to alleviate it.

Currently many options exist for treating pain in the furry critters, while more options are being explored. Pets can tolerate and receive benefit from some of the drugs humans are given as well. This is not without the potential for adverse effects, some of which may not be the same in our pets. For example, cats are much more susceptible to the adverse effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories than humans and dogs would be.

Using a multi-modal approach to fight pain compensates for such potential for problems while managing pain in companion animals. Additional options include appropriate nutrition, supplements (such as sources of omega 3 oils, glucosamine, etc.), physiotherapy, laser therapy in certain situations, and most importantly treatment for the underlying cause of pain.

Likely indicators of pain in pets are numerous, including change in behavior, stiffness, decreased appetite, vocalization, change in facial expression, change in grooming habits, or posture while sleeping to name a few. Some of these changes can develop over time and may often be regarded as an aging change. Arthritis is the most common source of pain in pets and can go untreated for long periods in senior pets. Again, it is very manageable and may not even need painkillers if managed early.

Even though pain control for pets has come late to the party, it is every bit as important in pets as it is for us.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinary Dermatologist & Practice Owner at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.

Relieve Kitty’s Pain With Cat Arthritis Treatments

Cat arthritis is a joint inflammation disease causing pain and reduced mobility and is experienced by many middle aged and older pets. Fortunately, veterinarians offer a number of effective treatments for arthritis, and cat owners should keep watch for the symptoms as their pets age, especially when they reach the age of seven. Consult your vet for a diagnosis and help if your cat seems to be suffering from this disease. Read more