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A Pet’s Osteoarthritis

Posted Jan 28 2009 3:53pm

Pet’s Osteoarthritis is the most common form of a joint disease found in our pets.

However, it is not just related to the “age “of your animal. It is a degenerative joint disease that usually is associated with the wearing out of the cartilage.

Over a given period of time, the smooth cartilage that overlays the end of the joint starts eroding, but there can be other factors that will contribute to pets osteoarthritis

Trauma to the joints, lack of exercise, overweight or obesity, and than the other extreme, such as repetitive strenuous regimes on the pet can also lead to this ailment.

Inflammation is not always apparent in this ailment, but what is common is joint pain, a loss of mobility with the joints, and even a remodeling of the bones, especially in elderly pets.

These conditions will increase with progression of this aliment, and will become more debilitating for your pet.

There are many types of arthritis that can affect pets, and classifying them if often quite difficult.

With this joint disease not only is the degenerative joint tissues affected, but the synovial membrane is as well.

The cartilage is composed of cells (referred to as chondrocytes), that are embedded in an intercellular substance. The synovial fluid is usually thick and resilient, thus acting as a cushion for the joints so to speak.

Once started, the “osteoarthritis cycle” can erode the synovial cushion and thus start a vicious cycle that results in more damage, pain, and weakness.

Pets Osteoarthritis Cycle is something like this:

First the pet gets an increase in abnormal joint fluid, than the joint capsules start to thicken, which than results in decreased limb usage because of this cycle.

Than pain starts to set in, the muscle weakens and atrophy starts, weakness and stretched ligaments also start to occur, and than cartridge and bone damage happens.

The cycle than repeats it-self and can keep causing further damage to your pet.

Before treatment of this aliment can really begin, there must be an accurate diagnosis. Again, this joint disease does not just occur because your pet is old.

Some forms of this ailment are inherited, such as hip or elbow dysphasia.

Other forms may be secondary to some type of trauma, and than other forms may be indeed because of advanced age.

For example, an older dog that is having “weakness” in the rear legs may lead you to the assumption that it is simply arthritis. A proper diagnosis is required before the correct treatment can be made.


Most of the conventional methods of treatment have the goal of simply trying to ease the pain and the inflammation that has set in, but in reality these methodologies do very little to prevent the ailment from the steps of progression.

Drugs of course are the first method of treatment.

There has, however, been a lot of insight and testing that have shown that supplementation of glucosamine and chrondroitin have greatly eased the pain and the progression of osteoarthritis.

Although very, very promising, there is still research by the medical community to fully back these claims.

Nonsteroidal drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids have both been used. NSAIDs have shown clinical signs of relieving the symptoms but they do come with a very high rate of side effects such as kidney and gastrointestinal issues.

Corticosteroids have shown the same successful results but carry the same degree of concern with the side effects.

Lifestyle changes must certainly be addressed with this ailment.

A failure to address your pet’s obesity and to develop a regular regime of exercise will allow this ailment to foster and grow, causing more pain and suffering for your pet.

Surgery is also an option as well as hip replacement, if you can afford the expense.

However, there are still a couple of options to consider.

Since this is really where the cartilage breaks down faster than a body’s function can actually replace it, supplements such as mentioned earlier, glucosamine and chrondroitin, are quite safe as they appear to be very effective and have not shown side effects.

Glucosamine has definitely shown to stimulate basic cartilage production or reproduction, and chrondroitin has shown the capabilities to inhibit enzymes that actually breakdown and or cause damage to the cartilage.

But by far and away the best preventive action a pet owner can take is to sacrifice the 20 to 30 minutes it takes twice a day to take your friend for their exercise, what ever it may be, and constantly monitoring their weight.

I am an avid lover of pets and my wife and I have had several pets throughout our years. We are especially fond of dogs, and we have a 12 year old Dalmatian (our 3rd) and a “mutt” that we rescued when someone threw him away to die in a vacant field. He found us, nearly starved to death, and weighed about 2 pounds. After severe bouts of mange and severe dehydration, and over 1,000.00 in veterinarian bills, we saved the little guys life, and he is one of the best, if not the best, dogs we have ever had and today is a muscular, fit, and firm 70 pound best friend.

After finishing my MBA, which at middle age was not easy, I decided to keep the research work ethics that I acquired, and devote about two hours each night in understanding the health benefits of supplementation for both humans and pets and how they might strengthen our, as well as our pets, immune system in a pre-emptive approach to health rather than a reactionary approach.

Both of my daughters are avid cat lovers, and asked me to help them with health concerns and challenges with their cats.

I am not a veterinarian nor claim to be, just a lover of pets that loves to research and pass on some knowledge that might be helpful, or at least stimulating to the thought process. Several of the articles that I have written can be found on my website; Liquid Vitamins & Minerals for Humans & Pets

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