Take Pawsitive Steps to Prevent Osteoarthritis
When terrier mixes, Woody (2) and Dylan (4), ready for their ritual morning walk, “It’s like a ceremony,” describes dog mom, Verla Bloomfield. First, she bestows Woody his harness, and then Dylan, who is so excited he lets out a big, belting howl.
“If they see a leash come out, they lose their minds,” Bloomfield says. “They absolutely love their walk. Walking is good for them and intellectually, they need to get out of their space.”
During moderate temperatures, Woody and Dylan embark on morning and evening walks, as well as enjoy time outside playing fetch. The two also attend doggy day care twice weekly for more exercise, socialization and mental stimulation. While the exercise helps keep them engaged and avoid enticing destructive behaviors, it’s much more than that. These pawsitive steps are helping prevent obesity and the now ever-common disease, osteoarthritis.
One of three cats and dogs in the U.S. is overweight.
Excess weight is damaging to a pet’s health and directly linked to osteoarthritis. Some 52 percent of dogs and 41 percent of cats with osteoarthritis are considered overweight or obese, according to a recent State of Pet Health Report, completed by Banfield Pet Hospital. The disease is caused by inflammation and joint tissue damage, and it’s a viciously chronic cycle. First comes joint pain and discomfort, leading to weight gain that worsens the condition, and then, coming full circle again to joint pain and discomfort.
Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs, and it is plaguing dogs and cats more now than ever before. Over the last 10 years, cases of osteoarthritis have increased by 150 percent for cats and 66 percent for dogs. Pets 10 years and older are most commonly affected by osteoarthritis.
“We had two elderly dogs, Bonnie (15) and Angus (14), and they both went on walks until the very end,” Bloomfield said. “I truly think that is what kept them feeling as good as they felt at their age. We’ve went from both extremes, from two senior dogs to two young dogs. You have to make extra accommodations for their energy levels.”
The disease can impact cats and dogs of any age, and younger pets continue to be diagnosed, reports Banfield Pet Hospital.
How do you know if your pet has osteoarthritis?
|Dog: Sit with a back leg loosely to the side||Cat: Sport a poor hair coat, with limited grooming abilities|
|Dog: May be reluctant to go up or down stairs||Cat: Experience difficulty getting into the litterbox|
|Dog:Have decreased interest in playtime||Cat: May have difficulty climbing to high spaces|
|Dog: Experience difficulty standing or stiffness||Cat: Have little interest in people and petting|
|Dog: Walk slower than normal||Cat: May be reluctant to go up or down stairs|
How can you help a pet that has osteoarthritis?
Work with your veterinarian to develop a comprehensive health care plan to offer a furry friend relief from osteoarthritis. Beginning with weight management, including diet and exercise, veterinarians also recommend anti-inflammatory and pain medications such as Galliprant. This medication is safe and effective for daily use. By reducing pain and inflammation, Galliprant helps pets with osteoarthritis enjoy more movement, less weight gain and less stress on their joints. Trusted supplements, such as Cosequin and Dasuquin, also support a pet’s overall joint health for added comfort that is much deserved.
You can find additional information on healthy weights for pets, here. Make sure to prioritize diet and daily exercise to help put your pet’s best paw forward for years of tail-wagging fun.