Watching your older pet who suffers from osteoarthritis struggle with everyday activities can be heartbreaking. A common affliction of senior pets, which can also affect pets of all life stages, osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that progressively becomes more uncomfortable as your pet’s joint cartilage deteriorates, and begins grinding bone-on-bone, because the bones in the joint have no protective cushion. This painful condition reduces your pet’s mobility, range of motion, comfort, and desire to interact and participate in normal activities. Fortunately, at Groves Veterinary Clinic, we have many tools in our arsenal to help pets with osteoarthritis keep moving well into their golden years. Here are five of our favorite tools that will improve your furry pal’s mobility.

#1: Laser therapy

Laser therapy is a drug-free, surgery-free, and pain-free modality used to stimulate the body’s natural healing process. Unlike surgical lasers, which are used for cutting and cauterizing, therapeutic lasers increase circulation by applying a different light wavelength to the affected area. The increased circulation releases more natural endorphins, and cells and building blocks needed for healing, which also makes this an excellent postoperative treatment.

Multiple laser therapy sessions work best, because each treatment builds on the previous one, allowing greater pain relief and healing. Depending on your pet’s needs, we may recommend once-weekly sessions until your furry pal is comfortable, and then periodic tune-ups. Each pet’s response and condition will be carefully assessed, to create an individualized laser therapy plan.

#2: Joint supplements

A wide selection of joint supplements is available on the market, but not all products can back up their claims. Supplements are not regulated, and may not actually contain the ingredients they list, so you must be careful when purchasing joint supplements, including searching for products that have case studies and research to prove their claims. Some of the ingredients shown to help preserve joint cartilage and reduce inflammation include:

  • Glucosamine HCl
  • Chondroitin sulfate
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
  • Green-lipped mussel
  • Antioxidants
  • Green tea 
  • Boswellia serrata 

Joint supplements provide the most benefit when used as a part of a preventive plan. If your pet’s osteoarthritis has already progressed to a painful level, little joint cartilage is left. These supplements are designed to preserve the remaining cartilage, so proactive use when your pet is still comfortable is the most beneficial. For a specific product recommendation unique to your pet’s condition, talk with our veterinarian. 

#3: Adequan injections

Adequan injections work differently than the other tools in our osteoarthritis arsenal. While pain medications and laser therapy work to alleviate the signs associated with osteoarthritis, Adequan is the only product formulated to modify the disease and inhibit cartilage loss, and works to restore joint lubrication, relieve inflammation, and renew the building blocks of healthy cartilage. At the first sign of possible osteoarthritis in your pet, Adequan injections would be beneficial to preserve joint cartilage and promote healthy joints. 

#4: Pain and anti-inflammatory medications

Many pets benefit from the pain- and inflammation-relieving effects of pharmaceutical products, but long-term use can harm the liver and kidneys. To help offset potential side effects, we include these medications as part of a multimodal treatment plan, to promote the synergistic effect of more natural treatments. When using pain medications for your furry pal’s osteoarthritis condition, some products will work better than others, so  trial-and-error may be necessary to find the most effective medication for your pet’s unique pain source. 

#5: Prevention through weight management and exercise

The easiest way to keep your pet mobile and comfortable throughout their golden years can be done at home—weight management and exercise. Like people, proper nutrition and exercise are highly effective at keeping pets’ joints healthy and functioning normally. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Calories Feed your pet based on their caloric requirements, rather than following the feeding guidelines on the food bag.
  • Treats — Treats should make up no more than 20% of your pet’s daily diet, and can include fresh veggies, lean meats, and small pieces of fruit, instead of commercial products.
  • Exercise — A minimum of 15 minutes of daily exercise is a must for all pets, with low-impact exercises, like walking and swimming, best for senior pets, while younger pets can enjoy intense games of fetch, flyball, and agility.

The best time to implement a weight management and exercise program for your pet is the first day you welcome them home. Setting a good routine from the beginning will be much easier than trying to wean your pooch off potato chips in the future.  

Is your furry pal slow to rise and not as playful as in the past? Your pet may be silently suffering from osteoarthritis. Give us a call at Groves Veterinary Clinic to schedule an appointment, and help your pet get back up on their paws.