Treating our pets’ arthritis
Arthritis develops at the ends of bones where joint surfaces become rough and irregular. The resulting irritation and inflammation wears down parts of the bone and the body responds by adding bits of bone called spurs. Arthritis can develop in different joints all over the body, including hips knees, ankles and shoulders. The discs in between the vertebrae of the spine can also degenerate and cause changes along the joint surfaces.The various treatments for arthritis are supplements, weight reduction, omega fatty acids, anti-inflammatories, environment modification and acupuncture. Supplements such as glucosamine have shown to strengthen cartilage and reduce wear and tear and pain. The doggie and kitty form, Glycoflex, is chewable and should be given daily. I didn’t care for the taste at all but my dog loves it.Next, it is very important that your pet maintains a trim waistline. This means that no matter how much hair covers your pet’s body, you should be able to run your fingers along the rib cage and feel the individual ribs. If your pet is overweight, make sure that you are feeding a lower calorie diet, including light or less active food or a prescription diet available from a veterinarian.Exercise may be advisable but should be restricted during the painful episodes. Of course, the extreme form – having your dog chase you while you are biking for three hours or while you are snowmobiling through deep snow – is inadvisable. Maybe your pet should ride on the snowmobile instead. Massaging certain muscles during spasms, along with a softer bed (unless your pet sleeps right next to you), will help relieve some pain.Anti-inflammatory drugs are used sometimes during acute episodes and sometimes for maintenance. Because most anti-inflammatories are metabolized by the liver, long-term usage can harm the liver and kidneys. Most of these medicines should be given with food.Finally, acupuncture has been a successful treatment. In traditional Chinese medicine, arthritis is called bi syndrome. It is an obstruction in the circulation leading to pain. Environmental factors – wind, cold and damp – affect bi syndrome. The muscles tense up, pulling on the joints and creating stagnation of the blood flow. The longer this exists, the greater the pain and damage to the underlying bones and joints. Treatment is aimed at relieving pain, breaking up the stagnation and stimulating blood flow, dispelling the wind from the body and warming the internal cold. This will normalize bone remodeling and hinder further deterioration.Do not get discouraged if your pet seems to be in pain from arthritis. There is no cure but we can slow down the degenerative process and help alleviate his or her pain to various degrees.Vail, Colorado
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