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When the Get-Up-And-Go, Won’t Get-Up And Go.


–by Dr. Timothy Hodge


Running, playing, jumping, tumbling - the spirit of activity and energy of life – its part of what dogs and cats are all about. And we, as their pet parents, enjoy seeing them have a great time. Patrick was the same when he was a puppy. He loved to


be the center of attention and had a great puppyhood. Then around the age of one, his owner noted something was amiss. Patrick wasn’t jumping or playing as much, and there was a change in his gait. His “mom” knew something wasn’t just right. The worried owner


took Patrick to her veteri- narian, who expressed concern about the way he was walking and resisting having his hip’s manipu- lated. Radiographs of his hips revealed hip dysplasia and arthritis in both joints. His right was worse than his left, but both sides were affected. Given his young age, Patrick’s issues were determined to be congenital. So, what is this con-


dition that has affected Patrick and what can be done about it? Those are great questions and there are many helpful answers. Patrick has hip dysplasia that has lead to osteoarthritis — a


condition commonly known as arthritis. Arthritis is best described as a degenerative, progressive and irreversible disease affecting the joints. It is characterized by the progressive loss of cartilage, osteophyte (bony growth, like spurs) formation, lead- ing to fibrosis and scaring of the tissue around the joint. At some point in our lives, most humans will have to deal with this condition as well. Arthritis can be classified as being primary or secondary in


nature. Primary arthritis is an intrinsic problem with the nor- mal growth and environment of the cartilage associated with aging. Secondary arthritis is the consequence of some external event such as trauma or an alignment issue that affects the car- tilage adversely. These degenerative changes are as common in cats as in dogs, but are less likely to be associated with as many overt clinical signs. Primary or secondary arthritis notwithstanding, the signs


and symptoms are similar. Reluctance to move; stiffness of movement; lameness and loss of mobility. Early on in the course of the disease, pets may be unable to perform certain tasks such


52 THE NEW BARKER


as jumping in the car or onto the bed. Changes in the joints will lead to inflammation, causing pain, decreased mobility, lameness and stiffness — especially following exertion. As the condition worsens, the stiffness and lameness may be most pronounced following periods of rest (first thing in the morning or after a nap) and during cold and damp weather. Eventually, decreased activity leads to muscle atrophy and weight gain, putting further stress on the joints. In order to make


an accurate diagnosis of osteoarthritis, a physi- cal exam is performed initially, followed by radiographs of the joints and a joint fluid analysis, as there are many non-arthritis dis- orders that can cause similar symptoms. Arthritis treat-


ments are geared toward alleviating dis- comfort, minimizing further degeneration and making affected joints as pain-free and


functional as possible. Multiple therapies are going to be better than any single therapy. Manage the weight. Excessive weight puts more stress on


joints and fat leads to inflammation. For overweight pets, a weight loss diet is important to help shed those pounds. Balance the activity. Fit and active animals with arthritis


tend to have a better quality of life than those that are unfit. Protect the joints by supporting the cartilage. Products like


glucosamine and chondroitin among others, can help produce more fluid to lubricate the joint, inhibit degradation, improve healing and reduce inflammation. NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) like Rimadyl,


Deramax, Previcox, Meloxicam, reduce pain, inflammation and swelling but can adversely affect the liver, kidney’s, and GI tract. Monitoring with blood and urine tests is important, as is owner observation of abnormalities such as GI upset, decreased appetite, increased thirst and urinations. Additional pain and inflammation therapies such as Tramadol, Gabapentin, acupunc- ture, herbal therapy, stem cell injections and companion animal therapy laser are becoming more common. Surgery to remove bony and cartilage fragments is an option if medical therapy isn’t affective or adequate.


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