Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in dogs and cats. It typically affects senior pets most often. It is a chronic joint disease causing a loss of joint cartilage, thickening of the joint capsule and new bone formation around the joint (osteophytosis). OA ultimately leads to pain and limb dysfunction.

Some symptoms of OA is a decrease in daily activities, stiffness, lameness, inability to jump, changes in gait and hopping of the back end. There are behavioral changes such as aggression or signs of discomfort or pain.

The good news is, in most cases, OA is manageable with medications and supplements. It does not have to be a death sentence. Clients who suspect their pet may have joint issues should see their Veterinarian. The sooner we intervene that better….animals love to hide pain! The Veterinarian will do a physical exam and ask the owner for information about the changes they have notices in their pet. They will palpate the limbs and joints to assess for pain response, thickening of the joint capsule, accumulation of joint fluid or muscle atrophy (wasting). They may also do X-rays to look for soft tissue changes and other joint abnormalities.

Management for OA includes weight control. This one is by far the most critical aspect of OA management. Fat produces inflammatory mediators that perpetuate the inflammation process and increased body weight put additional force on the joints. Modifying and monitoring your pets activity is also very helpful. Limit high-impact activities such as running or jumping because they can cause more inflammation and pain. These activities can be replaced with more controlled activity like going for a leisurely walk or swimming. Low impact and consistent exercise is good to help build the muscles around the joints and will eventually promote joint stability. Controlling pain through Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most commonly used medication for OA pain control. In patients that cannot tolerate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, there are other medications available to help those pets. Adequan injections can improve joint cartilage health and reduce inflammation. Another aid in OA is the use of joint supplements; chondroitin, glucosamine and omega-3-fatty-acid supplementation are the most commonly recommended joint supplements. Ask us for brand recommendations as that matters in the quality of product you purchase.

These approaches can slow down the progression of the disease, and many pets can live comfortably for years following diagnosis. However, OA is a progressive disease and will continue to worsen with time. There are surgical options also for some patients that can improve function and comfort. We discuss these on a patient by patient basis.

Please contact our clinic if you have any questions or would like to make an appointment to have your pet examined. 417-725-2386