September is Animal Pain Awareness Month. This guest post is written by Ellie Batchiyska of Handicapped Pets, your most trusted source for pet wheelchairs, harnesses, and back braces.
Arthritis can be an unforgiving ailment. It strips your pets of their ability to jump, run, and chase squirrels and mice—all the things they love to do most. Stiff, aching joints can cause otherwise healthy cats and dogs to seem practically disabled, relying entirely on the help of their owners to complete most day-to-day activities. Arthritis is especially demanding for already handicapped pets.
When your pet develops arthritis, this essentially means that their joint tissue is deteriorating. This causes activity to put extra strain on their joints without enough cartilage to lessen the impact. Signs that your dog or cat may have arthritis include:
- increased weight
- excessive sleeping/decreased activity
- for cats, failure to use the litter box due to difficulty getting in and out
Arthritis and aching joints are primarily found among senior dogs and cats. However, it’s important to be vigilant about any signs of decreased activity in all ages.
Arthritis can be disabling, but there are plenty of solutions and natural remedies for treating arthritis in our handicapped pets. Here are some treatment options.
For both dogs and cats, adding glucosamine and fish oil supplements to their diet could aid in recovery. Glucosamine can help repair cartilage and stimulate joint fluid, therefore lubricating the joints for lessened pain. Fish oil, on the other hand, is chock-full of Omega-3s, which have anti-inflammatory qualities. These are available as chews, treats, or liquids that you can sprinkle on top of your pet’s food. These products are available over-the-counter and are completely safe for your pets to ingest, unlike prescription medications which can damage their kidneys and may lead to many unwarranted side effects.
Harnesses & Slings
For handicapped pets whose arthritis is debilitating, the use of harnesses and slings can be invaluable. They make it easier on you as the owner when it comes to carrying your dog or cat. Harnesses and slings can be used to lift your dog off the ground, up the stairs, or into the car. They can be worn for extended periods of time, and are excellent for maintaining the mobility of handicapped pets.
Most dog and cat treats contain gluten, which aggravates inflammation. Transferring your pet to a gluten-free diet—complete with yummy sardines, mackerel, and steamed veggies—can help prevent further pain. Bone broth, which contains the aforementioned glucosamine, can also be added to your pet’s meals to encourage healing of the bones. Turmeric may be sprinkled over your pet’s food to alleviate pain and stiffness, as well. These meal modifications apply to humans suffering from arthritis, but you will find they are also perfectly safe for handicapped pets suffering from the same problems.
Massage & Acupuncture
You’re probably thinking: Acupuncture?! For my cat?! We were a little mind-boggled the first time we heard it too, but many veterinarians and pet owners swear by it. In fact, it’s even recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association. Your vet may be able to perform the massage/acupuncture therapy or they can point you to a vet who does. The vet will massage your pet’s joints and insert small needles into specific points in the body to target pain centers. Not only can acupuncture be used to treat arthritis, and similar musculoskeletal conditions, but it has also been used to diagnose these issues. In fact, acupuncturists have even been able to locate brain tumors based on the animal’s response to needle insertion in a certain area.
Be There For Your Pet
Emotional support is just as important as physical support. Being by your pet’s side throughout their handicap will make their path to healing that much easier. A combination of the above-mentioned supports, along with any prescription pain medications your vet may offer, can significantly improve your ailing pet’s quality of life.
Handicapped pets suffering from arthritis require extra-special care and support from their owners. Make sure you’re equipped with the proper tools and resources to make their condition part of their life, and not the center of it.