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Animal Health > Diagnosis and Treatments for Arthritis in Pets

Observation
Does your pet move more slowly, have difficulty negotiating stairs, difficulty eating, or changes in stools or urine? Or does it have swelling around joints or display symptoms of pain?

Any changes to your pets behaviour are an indication that all is not well. As with us humans, some changes are temporary and pass in days, but other problems get worse over time and this is where degenerative diseases such as arthritis may be suspected.

X-rays
X-rays can show up most (but not all) conditions affecting the bony structures of the joints, limbs and spine, and some soft tissue structures as well. I am often asked why vets need to heavily sedate or anaesthetise an animal for this. For the X-ray to provide as much useful information as possible, your pet must be still during the process. Modern anaesthetics are very safe, and most practices now have a nurse monitoring the animal under anaesthetic constantly. Trying to interpret a poor x-ray can sometimes be just as dangerous as guesswork. So if your vet recommends anaesthetising your pet to x-ray him, there are good reasons why this is helpful in confirming a diagnosis.

Blood samples
Blood samples are useful for looking at for instance, increased white blood cell count for supurative arthritis, Rheumatoid factor, and anti nuclear antibody for auto-immune mediated arthritises.

Ultrasound
Ultrasound is of limited use as far as the bodies bony structures go, as ultrasound waves only penetrate the bone very shallowly.

Arthroscopy
Arthroscopy - a tiny camera inserted into the joint - a little more specialised, but becoming more prevalent these days. Can show changes in the cartilage which may not show up in x-rays, because cartilage is not mineralised with calcium.

Contrast radiography
Contrast radiography - a dye opaque to x-rays is injected into the joint, and an x-ray taken. This could show up particle of cartilage broken off from the joint surface - or joint mice as they are otherwise known.

This is not a comprehensive list of diagnostic techniques, but covers most of them currently used in modern veterinary medicine. Next time I'll start discussing the treatments currently used in conventional veterinary medicine.

Rimadyl and other NSAIDs
Rimadyl is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug. It is similar to drugs like aspirin, ibruprofen, and tylenol. While it is quite effective at treating the pain, it does absolutely nothing to treat the disease or rehabilitate the joint. Furthermore, it has potentially lethal side effects.

Glucosamine
Glucosamine is a very promising treatment for arthritis and hip dysplasia in cats, dogs, and horses. Tests have shown it is effective in treating the pain and rehabilitating damaged cartilage.




 

Index
Anal Fistulas
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis Types
Types of Pet Arthritis
Diagnosis and Treatments
Treatment & Prevention
A Vets View
Treating and Preventing Illness
Nutrition's Role
Canine Hip Dysplasia
Feline Hip Dysplasia
Glucosamine Products
Consumers Guide
Your Cat
Rimadyl

 
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