DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE (a form of arthritis)
There are many different forms of arthritis ( including juvenile, immune mediated and septic forms) however the most common type of arthritis is degenerative joint disease. It is most commonly seen in senior pets and is inflammation in the joint(s) caused by the degeneration and deterioration of the joint due to age or excessive wear and tear.
Both dogs and cats experience DJD although it is often easier to recognize in dogs . Signs of DJD can be relatively mild eg stiff when getting up from a resting position, licking of sore joints or can be very obvious eg limping, crying or restless at night. Cats may not show many outward signs but often become less active and have difficulty jumping up to higher places.
In some cases DJD ( degenerative joint disease) can be diagnosed based on history and physical examination however sometimes xrays are required to confirm the condition and rule out other disease processes.
Unfortunately there is no cure for DJD however there are lots of things that can be done to make our pets comfortable and slow down the progression of the disease.
- Weight management- shedding those extra kilos is very important as the less weight an animal carries the less stress there is on the joints
- Use of prescription diets eg Royal Canin Mobility Support or Hills JD
- Use of dietary supplements eg Paws Osteo Suppoet given daily to your pet .
- Pentosan injections- these are injections administered by theVet as a 4 week course ( one injection per week). They are given under the skin on the back of the neck just like the annual vaccinations and help to improve the quality of all the joint surfaces and joint fluid.
- Anti-inflammatories- there are many non steroidal anti-inflammatories on the market that can be prescribed for DJD. These reduce active inflammation in the joint and provide good pain relief.
- Pain killers- often used in later stages of the disease these have very strong pain killing properties and can be administered in conjunction with other therapies
DJD unfortunately is a common problem with ageing pets and is unavoidable. By keeping your pet trim and fit and by recognizing the early signs hopefully we can slow the disease progression. Always keep your senior pets nice and warm in winter with coats if necessary and make sure they have bedding raised off the ground and have them regularly checked by the vet so early detection is possible.