Arthritis in your pet

By Dr. Lars Rahmquist [email protected]

Lars Rahmquist studied veterinary surgery at Sydney University, graduating in 1996 with first class honours. He has worked in a number of fields in veterinary practice, including dairy medicine, equine practice, wildlife work in Nepal and small animal clinics in four different countries. Lars is a practising VIP partner in Lagos.

As hard as it is to believe with this bout of beautiful weather, winter is on the way.

The colder weather will make it harder for arthritic joints. My old football knees have shown me this in the past.

Cold weather contracts joint capsules, which will pull on the (abnormal) new bone which is present in arthritis and aggravate the inflammation, causing more pain.

Joints are filled with a tenacious fluid which serves a few purposes, not the least of which is to aid as a shock-absorber within the joint itself.

As arthritis progresses this joint fluid becomes more insipid and watery. This increases the fluid’s compressibility and decreases its efficacy. It also makes the fluid more susceptible to contraction due to cold weather.

Unfortunately, once articular cartilage is damaged arthritis in that becomes inevitable and progressive. For this there is no cure, although canine stem cell research has shown some encouraging early results.

But as it stands, the current therapies for arthritis are as follows (this list in is order of performance post-treatment):

Cartrophen injections – This is a course of four injections given one week apart

This is the ONLY drug which will decrease the rate at which arthritis progresses. It increases cartilage metabolism and improves the viscosity of the joint fluid.

The course can be repeated every six months and is best used early in the disease process to minimise cartilage deterioration.

Glucosamine/ Condroitin  – These are daily tablets commonly used in human medicine for arthritis and help decrease the degradation of the cartilage.

There are many dog and cat preparations, the most scientifically proven one being Cosequin.

Scientific diets – Royal Canin and Hills make specifically modified diets which not only contain glucosamine and condroitin but also a range of anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants which all contribute to minimise oxidative damage within the joint.

Anti-inflammatories – There are a range of these medications for daily, safe use in arthritic patients. They do nothing for improving the health of the joint but they decrease the inflammation in them and thus decrease the pain in arthritic patients.

These tend to be reserved for refractory cases.

We hope you are all enjoying this beautiful autumn as much as we are.

Chin, chin.

If you want further advice on arthritis, please contact your vet or call us here on 282 782 282.