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Don’t Ignore Arthritis Symptoms

By DR. MITSIE VARGAS
ORCHID SPRINGS ANIMAL HOSPITAL

Canine suffering from arthritis [ainDid you know that arthritis is even more common in dogs than it is in people?

One out of every six people suffers with some form of arthritis. Compare that to dogs, in which about 20 percent, or one in five dogs, feel the pain of arthritis. This number almost doubles in dogs older than 7 years.

This occurs as both people and dogs and cats grow older. The joints don’t function as smoothly and lose some of their ability to lubricate joint movement as time passes.

Often a pet owner overlooks this pain as simply “the pet is getting older.” In fact, some veterinarians believe that more than half of all dogs and cats with painful arthritis are going untreated because their owners don’t recognize the subtle and insidious symptoms of joint pain.

Some of the signs your pet is in pain include stiffness and reluctance to move, unexplained behavioral changes (more aggressive), easily tiring, not wanting to jump or noticeably limping and even panting when at rest. Few pets really whine when they move, and I am afraid if pet owners wait for the pets to vocalize their pain, it is too late and that poor animal has suffered chronically in silence.

The treatment for pain should be a multimodal approach, using moderate exercise, nutrition and proper supplements, acupuncture and pharmaceuticals.

Moderate exercise is recommended to keep pets’ weights in a normal range and not add to the stress on already-stressed joints. If possible, swimming is a good form of exercise because it is non-weight bearing. Soft warm beds, ramps for getting in the car and elevated dog bowls all help pets with arthritis pain.

Veterinarians also have new-generation, non-steroid medications that can help. This new generation of non-steroid medications uses enzyme inhibitors, and they act like many of the new human arthritis medications. Many pets, especially those with chronic and progressive hip dysplasia are getting good relief with these medications, especially along with proper home care and physical therapy. As both cats and dogs may have serious side effects to aspirin and ibuprofen, pain medications should only be prescribed by your veterinarian. I do recommend a blood screening to assess the liver function before starting any of these drugs.

Acupuncture and massage therapy are proving to add pain relief and quality of life to pets with arthritis. The stimulation of certain acu points can provide long-lasting relief of pain by releasing endorphins, but there are other physiological changes that occur involving the motor nerve endings, which result in less muscle atrophy. As a certified food therapist, I cannot stress enough the importance of a high-quality diet and the supplementation using glucosamine and antioxidants.

Maintaining an ideal body weight can add years to your pet’s life because obesity puts extra pressure on those joints.

Chronic pain can change a person, and it can change your pet’s personality and interaction with people.

If you are concerned that your pet may be in pain, ask your veterinarian.

Original Article Posted by www.theledger.com

It’s not just a people problem: Growing rates of obesity in pets have led to the emergence of fat farms offering “pawlates,” “doga” and “barko polo” — doggy versions of Pilates, yoga and Marco Polo — to help slim down man’s best friend.

In the United States, 53 percent of dogs are overweight, up from 45 percent four years ago. In cats, the figure is almost 58 percent, said Ernie Ward, a veterinarian and founder of the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention in Calabash, North Carolina. Overweight pets can suffer diabetes, joint problems, heart disease and decreased life expectancy, he said.

Most luxury pet hotels and spas will customize a fitness program for a pudgy dog or cat, but only a few have fat camps for large groups.

Overweight golden retriever Ceili swims in a pool during an exercise session at the Morris Animal Inn in New Jersey. (Mel Evans/Associated Press)

For golden retriever Ceili, it was easy to fatten up when living with a boy who dropped food from his highchair. The extra weight led Eileen Bowers of Bedminster, New Jersey, to sign up the more-than-100-pound pooch for a five-day fitness camp last month at Morris Animal Inn.

Besides pawlates, the camp offered swimming, nature hikes, treadmill trots, massages and healthful treats such as organic granola. It was designed to give Ceili and 40 other dogs a head start on a healthier life, said Debora Montgomery, the New Jersey camp’s spokeswoman.

Staff worker Kelli Quinones walks Ceili on a treadmill for dogs at the Morris Animal Inn. (Mel Evans/AP)

Wonder how you get a dog to do a downward dog? You wouldn’t recognize that yoga pose in the canine version. In doga, stretches are close to the ground, while pawlates uses ­higher-up balance equipment, such as large exercise balls, Montgomery said.

And the barko polo pool game varies from its human inspiration: A staffer shouts “barko,” and the first dog-paddling pooch to yelp gets a toy.

In all activities, “the dogs work for their meals. We praise and make the sessions fun and interactive,” Montgomery said.

Bowers started sending her dog to the Morris Animal Inn months ago when Ceili hit 126 pounds. Usually, female golden retrievers weigh between 55 and 70 pounds, Montgomery said. Ceili got down to 118 but went to camp to lose more.

“We want her to be around for a long time,” Bowers said.

July 6, 2014

— Associated Press

Original Article Located HERE