I remember the first time I realized how quickly pets age, I was 19 years old and back from college visiting my family on spring break. I watched my then 15-year-old tabby slink her way down the stairs to greet me and was shocked at how old she looked. Her orange fur was less vibrant, and her spunky attitude was now mellow. My once rambunctious green eyed kitten was now an old lady.
Since becoming a vet, I have learned so many things. The things that have stuck with me the most have been topics that I wished my vet had spoken to me and my family about. One topic in particular is osteoarthritis/arthritis. This topic is often overlooked and just attributed to the natural process of aging. Although arthritis can be an unfortunate part of aging, there are many steps that can be taken to slow the progression and/or allow pets to at least feel more comfortable as they age.
Arthritis is inflammation localized to a joint, and can cause intense pain and swelling. An arthritic pet may behave similar to humans with arthritis, in that their clinical signs may be more severe in the morning and during cold weather. Below are some of the clinical signs of arthritic pets:
❏ Becomes less active
❏ Gets up slowly
❏ Walks stiffly or limps
❏ Has swollen joints
❏ Hesitates or refuses to climb stairs
❏ Changes in mood
❏ Licks at limb frequently
If you notice any of these signs (read more here http://www.vetstreet.com) or you are concerned that your pet may develop arthritis in the future—PLEASE CONTACT YOUR VET. There are many preventatives and treatment options now available. We are here to help you navigate the sometimes-difficult waters of caring for an aging pet, and although we cannot reverse aging, we can help your pet age gracefully.
Natalie Alberg, DVM