Even Animals Have Arthritis

By: Janet Martin

If you think humans are the only ones suffering from arthritis, you're wrong. Our misery is shared by many of our animal friends, including dogs and cats.

Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease - the most common form of arthritis that affects 21 million Americans - is also common in animals, especially elderly dogs and cats. The disease is caused when cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in the joints deteriorates over time. This may be due to aging, being overweight, joint injury and stress or muscle weakness.

As the cartilage wears down, bone rubs against bone resulting in damaged bones. There is stiffness and pain in the joints during or after use or after a period of inactivity. Other symptoms are loss of flexibility, swelling, and tenderness in the joint.

"Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in your body, though it most commonly affects joints in your hands, hips, knees and spine. Osteoarthritis typically affects just one joint, though in some cases, such as with finger arthritis, several joints can be affected," said the Mayo Clinic.

In animals, however, osteoarthritis may be difficult to detect since the former can't complain or talk. Dr. James "Jimi" Cook, director of the Comparative Orthopedic Laboratory at the University of Missouri at Columbia, said the disease is often found in 20 percent of dogs over age 1.

Scientists at the University of Glasgow said a third of cats over age 8 may also be suffering from arthritis pain. However, unlike dogs or horses, they don't limp or make a fuss, making the disease difficult to diagnose, according to Professor David Bennett from the university's vet school.

Cook lamented the fact that by the time patients develop symptoms - about seven to 15 years after an injury in humans, and only six weeks for dogs - it is already too late to reverse the damage.

"The signs may be hard to spot at first: your gray-in-the-muzzle Labrador retriever takes a little longer to get up in the morning, or your fuzzy Persian doesn't jump as high as she used to. As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that your pet is having a hard time moving, and soon you realize that she is in pain whenever she walks, jumps, or even sits up. It can be a hard moment for a pet owner - learning that the animal you love has arthritis," said the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

"The symptoms of arthritis can be hard to distinguish - animals can't complain about their aching joints, so all that pet 'parents' see is a response to pain. Animals with arthritis might avoid the activities they used to enjoy, stop jumping onto the furniture, or they might nip or seem upset when touched. Some animals may become depressed or change their eating habits; others may simply seem grumpier than usual," the AAHA added.

To make life easier for you and your pet, see a competent doctor for help. Although osteoarthritis can't be cured, modern treatments can reduce pain and maintain movement so you can perform daily tasks. To control pain, swelling, and inflammation, use Flexcerin, a natural supplement that soothes aching joints, rebuilds worn joints, and restores joint flexibility and mobility. For details, go to http://www.flexcerin.com.

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