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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Easing Joint Pain in Cats and Dogs

Every day as your pet ages, they become more susceptible to osteoarthritis. It is an extremely common illness among cats and dogs, and can be very painful for your pet to endure and for you to watch. Symptoms and reasons for joint pain vary from animal to animal:

Symptoms of joint pain

• Trouble rising from lying down

• Unwillingness to jump

• Avoids climbing stairs

• Doesn’t run after toys

• Becoming anti-social

• Loss of appetite

• Aversion to being touched

Reasons for joint pain

• Age

• Breed

• Genetics

• Recent trauma or hospitalization

• Obesity

There are several ways you can try to help ease your pet’s joint pain, but please speak with your veterinarian before making any changes to determine what is the best course for your specific cat or dog.

1. Manage and maintain a healthy weight. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, almost 60% of dogs (over 50 million) and cats (over 55 million) in the United States are classified as overweight or obese. Obesity stresses the joints and causes bones to move abnormally, which, overtime, leads to decreased cartilage between joints. To manage your pet’s weight you could make changes in food products, amount of food, and increase the amount of exercise your pet receives.

2. Provide regular exercise opportunities. Not only can this help with obesity, but regular exercise can get those stiff joints to loosen up a bit. Arthritic dogs should get an hour of moderate exercise per day, broken up throughout the day (i.e. a walk, gentle tugging on a toy, easy tricks). Cats need at least five minutes of playful interaction per day with a toy or chasing a laser pointer.

3. Add supplements to your pet’s diet. Talk with your vet about adding anti-inflammatory supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, undenatured type II collagen, or green-lipped mussels. You can also look for foods fortified with fish oil. Something to note: contrary to popular belief, glucosamine chondroitin has NOT actually been proven effective at easing joint pain in pets.

4. Introduce pain management medication or techniques. The nonsteroidal carprofen and meloxicam have produced promising results in easing joint pain. Some studies also suggest an oral CBD can be effective. Other non-medication options include hydrotherapy, acupuncture or laser therapy.

Source: Golden, Caron. “4 Ways to Ease Your Dog's Joint Pain, According to a Veterinarian.” Eating Well. August 18, 2021.

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