By Dr Carol Osborne
Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease which causes painful inflammation of the joints and affects dogs and cats as well as humans. Recent research reveals that arthritis manifests itself in 95% of dogs even at the age two, and 99% of people at age 35, even if there are no visible signs. Twenty percent of all dogs two years of age and older are afflicted.
Symptoms include limping, lameness, decreased activity, stiffness, reluctance to stand, climb stairs, run and jump. In the case of cats they become reluctant to move and often have accidents outside the litter box.
Although arthritis is more common in large dogs, small dogs and cats are also vulnerable to this condition which destroys the cartilage and connective tissue, which normally act as a cushion and absorbs the shock between bones and joints.
But medical management, weight control and moderate exercise can help many pets to live a relatively pain free life even with this condition. This has traditionally consisted of anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids, which are effective in relieving pain but can carry serious side effects. But new, natural remedies are able to offer similar benefits without the risks. Moderate exercise helps maintain joint mobility and muscle strength for joint support. Weight control also helps reduce the burden of excess soft tissue the joints must support.
Like humans pets can benefit from taking supplements that provide relief from pain while increasing joint lubrication and flexibility and enhancing the joints ability to absorb shock. These should contain a range of ingredients including glucosamine, methylsulfonylemethane (MSM, Green Lipped Mussel, glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid, natural chelated minerals, Ester C, enzymes and polypeptides.
Since age, breed, diet, lifestyle, injury and stress can affect the health and function of joints in different ways it is always wise to seek the advice of a professional vet.