With the first crisp breeze of the autumn season comes the comfort of cooler days that allows us to enjoy the beautiful outdoors without the hassle of the dreadful Florida heat. Playing with our children and pets outside or strolling down the sands of a Gulf beach seems even more delightful during these cooler months. Unfortunately, along with this comfort comes an exacerbation of the nagging aches and pains associated with osteoarthritis. Many people with arthritis can even predict approaching changes in weather based on the worsening of these joint aches and pains. Although scientifically unproven, changes in barometric pressure are thought to place additional stress on joints as their tissues swell, therefore causing additional joint pain. A similar occurrence is thought to occur in our pets at home. It is commonplace (and rightfully so) for pet owners to think that their pet’s joint pain is more severe during cooler months of the year. As concerned pet owners, what can we do to prevent this additional discomfort in our beloved pets?
First things first, The Animal Clinic recommends that you take your pet to a veterinarian to have them examined. This will ensure that your pet does not have any other issues that may require medical attention or that may interfere with medical treatment of their joint pain. After examination by your veterinarian, additional testing such as x-rays and blood work may be recommended. These tests will help rule out other possible causes of your pet’s symptoms and ensure that your pet can safely receive a prescription anti-inflammatory medication that is often offered as a first line of defense against joint pain. In addition to prescription anti-inflammatories, there are many alternative forms of therapy for joint pain associated with osteoarthritis. One of these options is a joint supplement that includes glucosamine, chondroitin, or omega-3 fatty acids. These supplements provide the building blocks for healthy joint tissue. Another available option is Adequan, which is an injectable supplement that helps to decrease the breakdown of healthy joint tissue. One of the innovative treatments we proudly offer at The Animal Clinic to help fight joint pain is cold laser therapy. This is a non-invasive therapy that has shown promising results, including decreases in joint pain. Other potential treatments include shock wave therapy, massage, rehabilitation exercises, and acupuncture. Although all of these therapies can have tremendous benefits, they can also have side effects and therefore should only be attempted under the direct supervision of your veterinary staff at The Animal Clinic.
Each of the medications and therapies mentioned above offers unique relief from your pet’s joint pain. There is, however, another way that you can help your pet. And perhaps the best part about this therapy is that it is FREE! The Animal Clinic recommends keeping your pet at a healthy body weight throughout his or her life. A healthy body weight has been scientifically proven to delay osteoarthritis (and therefore joint pain) and even prolong your pet’s life. The veterinarians at The Animal Clinic will determine your pet’s ideal weight and help you develop a weight loss plan, if necessary. Although veterinarians use formulas to determine the amount of calories your pet should be fed each day, the first step to healthy weight loss is decreasing the amount of food, treats, and human food your pet consumes. It is very important to work with your veterinarian throughout your pet’s weight loss journey to ensure that it is done safely and does not progress too quickly. Please keep in mind that it is essential to follow the recommended weight loss plan, even if your pet starts asking for more food or always seem hungry. The veterinarians of The Animal Clinic feel that an ideal body weight is the absolute best thing for your pet to help minimize joint pain. Your pet will thank you for this by giving you unconditional love for an even longer period of time. Lastly, everyone at The Animal Clinic will thank you because we believe it is in the best interest of your pets.-Dr Nick Seibert