Pets and people get similar arthritis treatments |

Pets and people get similar arthritis treatments

Leslie Brefeld
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

SUMMIT COUNTY – Veterinarian Gretchen Norton attributes the high number of arthritis cases she sees at her office to the high number of big, active dogs in the county. Arthritis affects dogs and cats much the same way it affect humans.Frisco resident and pug owner Jackie Moberly noticed a change in her canine companion’s gait about a year ago. “Goblin had a limp,” she said. “It was more pronounced after hikes.”A visit to the veterinarian yielded no new information; the vet gave her pain medication to help with 10-year-old pug’s new problem. Moberly, who uses glucosamine for her knees, thought the same may help Goblin.

She began giving him the over-the-counter pet form of the arthritis medication and said after two months Goblin’s limp went away. “For the past year, he’s been more lively and hasn’t been limping a lot,” she said.Norton, who works at the Alpine Veterinary Practice in Dillon, said the pet form of glucosamine provides building blocks for joint fluids and cartilage in joints.Limping is one of the symptoms of arthritis in pets. Other indicators are a decrease in activity, changes in appetite and trouble getting up.Breckenridge resident Wayne Wolf’s 12-year-old black shepherd Oxford doesn’t act the same way as he did as a pup, he said. “He doesn’t jump on you like he used to,” he said. He also has trouble getting up, especially in the mornings, Wolf said.

Oxford’s treatment is to take it easy. Norton said along with medication, staying away from intense, hard exercise is advised for animals with arthritis. She suggested slow, steady walks instead.Norton also said the best kind of exercise for dogs with degenerative joint disease is swimming because it is a non-weight-bearing exercise.Aside from age, arthritis can begin from an injury or from being overweight.”Losing weight is one of the big things we do to make them more comfortable when animals are getting degenerative joint disease,” Norton said.Other treatment options include surgery, when the doctor tries to clean up the joint and make it less painful.

Arthritis can also be genetic.Norton suggests people looking for a new puppy have its parents’ hips x-rayed for hip dysplasia first. Hip dysplasia, a genetic problem, usually produces painful arthritis later in life.Vail, Colorado

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