By Dr. Michael Bassett, Medical Director

Arthritis is a major cause of pain and lack of mobility in older pets.  An elder cat may urinate or defecate inappropriately because it is painful to get into the litter box.  A small dog may snap at a child trying to pick him up because of pain.  A large dog may not be able to go up and down stairs anymore and may suffer to the point where humane euthanasia seems to be the only option.  We should keep this in mind as our pets age and make every effort to prevent these problems.   Keeping your pet at a healthy weight, handling orthopedic issues early on, checking for hip dysplasia, starting your pet on supplements, using tick prevention and regular exercise are all ways to help prevent Arthritis in your pet.

To treat Arthritis, we first need a diagnosis to give us the type of Arthritis and exact location.  In addition to a thorough history and a doctor’s physical exam, blood work and x-rays are necessary.  Certain problems can be fixed surgically such as a torn cruciate ligament, dislocated joint or a fracture.  Other things such as bone tumors need to be ruled out.  There are several different treatment options:

1)      Laser Therapy is a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical option that has helped many of our patients

2)      Supplements: NSAIDS or pain medications

3)      Joint Injections: Steroid, Platelet Rich Plasma, Stem Cells

NSAIDS can be wonderful aids to treating Arthritis pain, but they are not without risks and some patients cannot take them.  Gastric ulcers, liver and kidney damage or drug sensitivity can develop.  We must do blood work  regularly when patients are on these drugs.