Joints are the vital structures that day in day out hold our pets weight and get them moving. How do we keep them healthy?
Inside the joint, bony ends are covered with thick, smooth cartilage. These cartilage cushions need to effortlessly glide over each other thousands of times a day.
There are many causes of arthritis (joint inflammation) – infection, trauma, autoimmune disease – but the most common is a gradual joint cartilage wear and tear called DJD: Degenerative Joint Disease.
In DJD, what happens inside the joint area?
The cartilage becomes thinner, more brittle, and can crack! The joint becomes inflamed and bony spurs grow around the joint to stabilize it.
Why does DJD happen?
It’s easy to understand that cartilage can degenerate with age and years of use, but why do we see DJD so commonly in youngsters? This happens when joints develop abnormally as seen in hip and elbow dysplasia. As the animal grows, the joints do not align perfectly, and the cartilage cushions don’t slide over each other the way they should. Imagine turning an ill-fitting key in the lock over and over again. At some point, it’s going to crack!
What are the signs of DJD?
The affected joint is painful and can be swollen and thickened. Animals often struggle to rise or jump and they may obviously limp. Some may become less active, appear stiff and tire easily on walks. Some have difficulty sitting down or squatting to defaecate. Any of these symptoms suggest pain and discomfort.
What can we do?
- Be Proactive! Early management can slow the progression of this debilitating disease and responsible pain control can change your pets life! Make use of our free arthritis check to find out more.
- Keep your animal slim! The more weight these cartilage cushions carry, the quicker they degenerate.
- Healthy exercise. Overexercising – especially repetitive concussive movements – can hasten the disease. Swimming and walking are great exercises to develop muscle and fitness whilst taking concussive forces off the joint.
- Good nutrition. Especially in your pets growing stages.
If you are concerned that arthritis might be an issue with your pet, make an appointment for an arthritis check here.