Animal Health > Diagnosis and Treatments for Arthritis in Pets
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 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 are useful for
looking at for instance, increased
white blood cell count for supurative
arthritis, Rheumatoid factor, and
anti nuclear antibody for auto-immune
Ultrasound is of limited use as
far as the bodies bony structures go,
as ultrasound waves only penetrate
the bone very shallowly.
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
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.
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
Rimadyl and other
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 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