All posts by KK

Arthritis in cats

Changes in jumping behaviour are the most obvious sign of arthritis in cats.

Cats with elbow arthritis are reluctant to jump down and seem to pour themselves off the bed or cupboard.  Because they lose agility and flexibility they land with a thud and stand a moment before moving off.

Cats with arthritic knees are reluctant to jump as high as before.  They use chairs to get onto tables or abandon high resting places altogether.  Painful knees make them hesitate before jumping, scramble rather than jump or even miss the target.  Some cats pull themselves up onto the couch or bed rather than spring up.  Occasionally accidents happen because an old cat is unwilling to climb into the litter tray.

Cats that move stiffly have arthritic backs. Because it is difficult for them to groom their sides and backs their coats look rough or matt into tufts.  Nice cats turn into cranky cats when they are picked up or petted because of the pain.  Many spend the day resting and avoid play altogether.

You can help your arthritic cat. Set up stools or boxes as steps onto favourite resting places.  Encourage gentle play to strengthen muscles by trailing ribbon and batting balls.  Keep bodyweight down to reduce strain on old joints. Most important of all provide a warm, well-cushioned sleeping area.

Cortisone

Cortisone

We often prescribe cortisone for allergies and immune related diseases. Prednisolone, Macrolone or Antihistalone tablets contain a form of cortisone called prednisolone.  Short or long acting cortisone injections contain dexamethasone.

After 5 days of prednisolone tabs every day the adrenal glands start to slow their production of natural cortisol. It is safe to stop after 5 days of daily tablets but if we prescribe a longer course follow our instructions carefully.  Usually we recommend every other day tablets so that the adrenal glands keep functioning.

On a long course of prednisolone do not stop giving the tablets suddenly. Your pet may not be able to step up the production of cortisol fast enough to cope with an emergency, like a dog attack, a new pet or illness, and may collapse.

Side effects of cortisone include:

  • Increased fluid intake
  • Increased urine production
  • Increased appetite

Longer term and more serious side effects of cortisone include:

  • Cushings disease signs like a pot belly, flakey skin, enlarged liver and weak legs
  • Diabetes mellitus

Cortisone and anti-inflammatories given at the same time cause stomach ulcers.  We give anti-inflammatories such as Previcox, Deramax, Rimadyl, Metacam and Meloxicam for postoperative pain relief or arthritis. Please make sure your vet knows that your pet is on anti-inflammatories already.

A short acting dexamethasone injection rarely causes more than a mild increase in fluid and food intake.

We only inject long-acting dexamethasone if your pet is difficult to medicate or if your cat has a chronic condition that is not responsive to other cortisones.  Cats are generally more resistant than dogs to the side-effects of cortisone but very occasionally long-acting dexamethasone tips a weak heart into failure.

Arthritis in Dogs

What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a painful inflammation of the joints. Older and overweight dogs risk developing arthritis, but larger breeds of dogs often develop arthritis at younger ages.

Long-term wear and tear of the joints, trauma, or joint abnormalities such as hip or elbow dysplasia and cruciate ligament disease cause arthritis. Infectious and immune mediated arthritis are much less common.

Arthritis erodes the cartilage of the joint, reduces and thins joint fluid, and causes bony tissue to grow around the joint.

How do I know if my pet has arthritis?

Watch out for:

  • reluctance to walk, lagging behind or giving up half-way home
  • reluctance to climb stairs, jump or play
  • lameness or hobbling
  • stiffness
  • difficulty rising from a resting position
  • licking joints

What can I do to help my pet?

Ramps make stairs or the climb into the car less challenging.

Warmth eases stiff joints. Keep arthritic pets inside in colder weather, and provide your dog with a warm coat, a well-insulated kennel and well-padded bed with a heat pad.

Keep and eye on your dog’s weight. Extra kilograms put unnecessary strain on joints. Talk to us about the best weight reduction plan if your dog is overweight.

Moderate exercise is important to the physical and mental health of all pets.  Too much exercise strains the joints but too little results in muscle wastage and more pressure on the joints. Gentle walks or swimming are ideal.

Therapy

Arthritis has no cure, but we can improve your pet’s comfort and slow further joint deterioration. Treatment must be tailored to the individual and we often combine a number of treatment options.

Pentosan or cartrophen injections protect and repair joint cartilage, and stimulate the production of joint fluid.

Glucosamine and chondroitin formulated and tested for animals provide the raw materials for cartilage production as well as providing an anti-inflammatory action.

Pain medication known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) provide strong pain relief and give many arthritic pets a new lease of life. Your vet will prescribe the best one for your dog and discuss administration and possible side-effects. Never try your own arthritis drugs on your pet as some cause irreversible damage to pets’ kidneys and livers.

Some pets respond very well to acupuncture treatments.

Most owners report that their pets have a new lease of life on their individually-tailored arthritis treatment. They enjoy their walks and activity, want to play more and are happier members of the family. Talk to your vet about the best treatment plan to suit your pet.