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Why is my older pet slowing down?

As our pets get older it is common for them to start showing signs of Osteoarthritis. Sometimes this disease is referred to as degenerative joint disease. Inflammation in our pet's joints is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joint. Age, injury, or diseases can be the cause of the deterioration of the cartilage. Cartilage is a cushiony material that helps the joints move smoothly. When this protective cushioning is lost it causes pain, inflammation and can develop bone spurs. Although our pet's cannot tell us the amount of pain they are in, there are tell tale signs that you can watch for as an owner to help them get the pain relief they need.

The first most noticeable sign that owners usually notice is their pet having difficulty getting up from a laying position or not wanting to run and play the way they used to. This lack of activity can also cause weight gain which is also another sign that your pet maybe suffering from inflammation and pain. If your pet ever snaps or growls when they are pet when they did not before, it may mean they are experiencing a significant amount of pain in that area due to arthritis. If you notice they are having difficulty squatting to use the bathroom that can be related to cartilage deterioration in the lower back, hips and knees (some of the most common places to see arthritis). These symptoms do not only apply to our canine companions, cats can also show some of the same signs.

If your pet is showing any of these signs a visit to Mills Animal Hospital is important to find out the root cause of this behavior. Although these signs are usually related to osteoarthritis, they can also signal a much bigger problem. It is important to have your fur babies evaluated by Dr. Mills to make them comfortable as soon as possible. She may ask to complete x-rays to find out which joints are causing the most problems to be able to treat appropriately. By using x-rays she can evaluate how much damage is present in the joints.

If you are concerned about a heavy medication load, Dr. Mills likes to approach arthritis conservatively. Stay tuned for our next blog covering our multi step approach to conservative treatment of arthritis in your pet while getting them back to feeling great!

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