Stolley Park
Veterinary Hospital

3020 W. Stolley Park Road  Grand Island, Nebraska  68801  
Phone:  308-384-6272   Fax:  308-384-0984

November Newsletter

Arthritis

Winter is coming!  The leaves have fallen, and Thanksgiving is almost upon us.  In the rush of the impending holidays, you may notice that instead of joining in the Christmas spirit, your older dog is a little slower getting around.  He may be taking the stairs with more caution, or he may have some difficulty getting into a standing position after a nap.   Instead of calling him a Scrooge this season, you might consider that he is exhibiting classic signs of degenerative joint disease, or arthritis.

As our pets live longer, signs of arthritis are occurring more frequently.  True arthritis is characterized by irregular bony surfaces in the joint as well as a decrease in joint fluid.   The irregular surfaces and lack of cushioning from the fluid create significant discomfort in the affected joint, especially during movement.  Often this condition is equated with only the hip joints, though in reality, the elbows, knees and vertebrae are frequent sufferers as well. 

Bony changes of arthritis can be confirmed with x-ray to pinpoint specifically what joints have been affected.

Just like in people, arthritis symptoms seem to be exacerbated in colder months, which is why this condition might be more noticeable as the holidays roll around.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis.  There is hope, however, that we can improve your petís quality of life with medical management.  Medical management is usually two fold.  We start with a product that contains glucosamine and chondroitin.  This is purported to increase the amount of joint fluid that helps cushion the damaged joint surfaces.  Glucosamine takes a few weeks to become effective, so at least a 4 to 6 week trial is recommended.   The nice thing about glucosamine is that it has very few side effects.

For the extra painful days or just for routine management of discomfort, we recommend non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  There are a variety of these medications, all specifically targeting the pain and inflammation pathways.  Many people have noticed a significant difference in their dogís behavior after just a few doses of an NSAID.  Many of these are said to last 24 hours so they only have to be given once daily, or even just as needed on those days of extra activity or colder temperatures.  In rare cases, NSAIDs have been known to cause damage to the liver or kidneys, so if your pet is on this type of medication long-term, we do recommend a simple and inexpensive routine blood test to screen for any changes in those organsí enzymes. 

If youíve noticed your older pet seems a little more uncomfortable these next few months, please call Stolley Park Veterinary Hospital for an appointment so we can help.  We want your pet to enjoy his holidays just as much as we hope you will.  Isnít that what our best friend deserves?