By Jackie Kellum
Like many of us senior humans who may be dealing with arthritis, our pets may also have the same situation. Both cats and dogs can experience arthritis. The time to start thinking about managing this medical condition is before the pet is a senior. Similar to humans, pet arthritis is a progressive degenerative disease that causes stiffness, pain and discomfort in muscles and joints. You can greatly reduce the risk of arthritis by keeping your animal active and watching its weight.
Arthritis is more prevalent in obese animals due to the added stress on their muscles and joints. Injuries, accidents and wear and tear on muscles and joints and certain disease or infections can also contribute to arthritis, especially hip dysplasia. Although arthritis is more common in older pets, trauma to an animal of any age may create an arthritic condition. Some signs of pet arthritis may be: limping, decreased activity, excessive sleeping, fever, lameness, muscle loss, decreased ability or desire to jump up on things done previously, or going up and down stairs. If you observe any changes in your pet’s behavior such as those described above, it would be advisable to have your Vet check your pet. If your cat or dog is diagnosed with arthritis, you and your Vet will discuss the different remedies and treatments and decide what is best for your pet.
Possible remedies include medications, alone or in combination with holistic herbal supplements. There are some simple things you can do to help with your pet’s discomfort. If possible, avoid stairs or jumping up – or assist your pet with this task. Make sure your pet’s sleeping area is cushioned with easy access to reduce the strain on muscles and joints. When you take your dog on a walk, make it a short, ‘gentle’ walk rather than a long vigorous walk. Possibly a change in diet may reduce the discomfort. Certain fats, sugars, milk products and foods in the night shade family [potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant] may worsen arthritic symptoms. Dark colored vegetables and fruits are full of phytonutrients and vitamins which may help. If you have a medium / large sized dog, you might consider placing their food and water bowls on a short table/stand so there is less strain on their spine, legs and neck when they are drinking or eating. Watch your pet’s weight, keep your pet warm and dry in inclement weather, and be sure he always has a comfortable retreat.
A quick reminder of common pet toxicities: (a) obviously any kind of poison used to kill rodents, etc. (b) Grapes and raisins – although yummy, they have the potential of creating kidney damage / failure, (c) anti-freeze leaking from a car, licked off the ground, (d) chocolate – it can cause heart disturbances and seizures, (e) onions – may cause digestive problems as well as damage blood cells, (f) Xylitol [ artifical sweetner ] - an ingredient found in many candies and gum – can cause irreversible liver damage, (g) cleaning products – when used in excess and with inadequate ventilation can cause respiratory distress, (h) Tylenol / Acetaminophen - very toxic to pets, especially cats – causing blood disorders and even death, (i) plants: bulb type plants, kalanchoe, oleander, dieffenbachia, rhododendrons, azaleas and sago palms. If your pet is showing signs of illness and you suspect they have eaten any of these substances, see your Vet immediately.
Anita’s Animals has been a rescue shelter for abused, unwanted and abandoned kittens/cats and puppies/dogs for over twenty years. She thanks the community for their support! www.anitasanimal.com - PayPal available.
Column: Anita’s Animals
Born and lived for 24 years in New York City. She became a Registered Nurse and then moved to San Francisco, CA. Her life and nursing career continued there for forty-one years before retiring to Lakeside in 2006. She and her husband live in San Juan Cosala with their eight dogs, and several cats. Shortly after arriving, Jackie began fostering infant motherless kittens and puppies, some as young as a few days old. She volunteers with Anita’s Animals, including the weekly Aijic tianguis, monthly Pet Food Drive, and other charitable events for humans as well as animals.