We all take our joints and what they do for us for granted and it’s only when they cause problems that we think about them and take action to keep them healthy. With our pets this is even more of the case as we only become aware of a problem when our pet shows pain with movement or difficulty in going about its normal activities.
Unfortunately many pets, particularly the older and overweight ones, will suffer with some type of joint problem or impaired mobility at some stage in their lives and often this is first noticed during the colder damp weather as this does aggravate the problem.
Take Appropriate Action
Keeping an eye on your dog or cat’s ability to run, jump and generally get on with enjoying life is good sense and will often enable you to spot any developing joint problem early on and take appropriate action before it becomes severe and affects the pet’s quality of life.
The first sign often is simply taking longer to get up after a long rest, but it may be a noticeable limp or even excessive licking of the swollen joint. Of course there are many different causes and the phrase “joint problems” will cover everything from a strain or sprain caused by exercise, to a degenerative inflammatory disease such as osteo-arthritis. Usually a strain or sprain will be improved by a few days rest with perhaps some suitable muscle rub and giving the homoeopathic remedy Symphytum 15C, although if in doubt it is sensible to get the vet to check if there is anything more serious, particularly if it doesn’t improve within a week.
Arthritis is usually diagnosed by a vet and confirmed through x-rays. It is usually associated with age and wear and tear of the joints over time causing inflammation, pain and restricted mobility. Our two herbal medicines Garlic & Fenugreek Tablets and Green Releaf® Tablets given together are very effective in relieving the pain and reducing inflammation to make movement easier and your pet more comfortable – and are also a great combination for maintaining good general health in older dogs, so a really good choice for elderly pets.
A Bit of Support
Sometimes the joints may just need a bit of support to maintain their flexibility, particularly where time and exercise have affected the cartilage in the joints and the synovial fluid that keeps them lubricated and able to perform their function well. Glucosamine & Chondroitin Tablets help the body to manufacture the necessary building blocks of collagen and proteoglycans and so are a good supplement to help in these situations.
The one thing that really does affect joint health is where a pet is overweight and the joints are having to deal with a greater burden because of this. The same treatments can be used to relieve symptoms but it is very important to try and manage your pet’s weight and the improvement in mobility will soon be noticeable. Your vet can advise you on the correct weight for your pet and many vet practices run clinics to help if needed – a bit like Weight Watchers for pets !
Keep Exercise Gentle
We often get asked about exercise for pets with joint conditions, and the best advice is to make it gentle and regular and not more than the dog or cat can easily manage. Hopefully as the condition improves the exercise can be increased with time, but be guided by your pet’s reaction and how they seem to feel when exercising.
We have leaflets with information on how to identify different types of joint problems and also on weight management, which make it easy for you to see how you can do your best for your pet to avoid these painful conditions.