Our pets are part of our family and we like to see them being busy and active. But as they get older some activities can become more challenging, especially if they’re beginning to suffer from stiffness in their joints and early stage arthritis. It’s estimated a fifth of all dogs and cats are affected by a joint problem of some sort, and as many as 95% of cats have arthritis in their teenage years.
For dogs, daily activities such as going for walks, climbing stairs and jumping in and out of the car can become a problem. Cats can have trouble jumping up on to surfaces, using the litter tray or even just grooming.
The first symptoms of a joint problem are often stiffness or lameness, depending on where is worst affected. The joints may have deteriorated through usual wear and tear or there could be an injury or growth abnormality.
If one of your pets is getting old or is it starting to move stiffly, please come to us for advice. We can help you keep your pet active for as long as possible and effectively manage joint problems.
To avoid joint stiffness and arthritis, all pets should have plenty of regular exercise and be kept at a healthy weight. Sometimes just providing the right, warm, supportive bed can help care for joints as pets’ age.
Once a pet is displaying symptoms we’ll carry out a thorough examination and diagnosis, which may include tests such as x-rays and blood tests. There are some daily supplements we may recommend to help promote joint health which can be used alongside prescription medicines. This includes the best quality Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements and also an innovative product called Undenatured Collagen II which targets unique immunological pathways to reduce inflammation.
There is then a range of anti-inflammatory drugs we can prescribe for more advanced cases, or we may suggest a surgical option.
Some specific breeds of dog, including Labradors, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, are prone to a joint problem called hip dysplasia. There is a scheme run by the British Veterinary Association to try to reduce the recurrence of this in pedigree breeds called the HIP scoring scheme
Hip Dysplasia is a painful and debilitating condition which can affect many breeds of dog. The main breeds found with this problem are Labradors, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and some other heavily built dogs.
Dog’s hips are subject to a lot of powerful forces as they run, jump and twist and the hip joint has evolved to be an almost perfect anatomical structure which can transfer forces very efficiently. It features large well-lubricated surfaces surrounded by tough fibrous attachments to allow efficient pain-free action.
Poor development and subsequent poor conformation of the hips results in abnormal hip action leading to damage to cartilage and increased wear and tear. This causes inflammation of the joint and its surrounding fibrous tissues which in turn leads to arthritis.
The British Veterinary Association has been running a hip dysplasia scoring scheme for over 30 years. This scheme attempts to quantify the degree of severity of the condition in each dog. Thus only dogs with good hip conformation are used for breeding and the incidence of the disease should be gradually reduced.
Hip scoring is done by taking a carefully positioned x-ray of your dog’s hips which allows certain standard measurements to be made. From the measurements the Hip Scoring panel is able to arrive at an overall score for the dog. This should be as low as possible, however if it is at or below the breed average then it is acceptable to breed from the dog.
To do this your dog will need to be admitted for the day and will have a general anesthetic. The procedure is relatively straightforward and is totally non-invasive and your dog will go home the same day. The X-rays are sent to the BVA and results take a few weeks to come back. The BVA charge a separate fee for the scoring which must be sent with the x-ray. We can advise you of this fee if you choose to have your dog hip scored.
For further information or to discuss Hip Scoring with a vet please call us during normal working hours.
Remember, the sooner we see a pet which is starting to have joint problems, the more we can do to help them. You can make an appointment by getting in contact today