Thursday 7 March 2013

What Is Arthritis in dogs

Arthritis means inflammation of the joint. The most common arthritis in dogs and cats is osteoarthritis (OA), named because the problem is caused by the bones (osteo). Pet arthritis (also known as feline arthritis or canine arthritis) can also be caused by infection (septic arthritis or bacterial arthritis in dogs) or by the body attacking itself in an immune system malfunction (rheumatoid arthritis). 
With pet osteoarthritis, bones are damaged because cartilage has given way. Cartilage is there to act as a cushion preventing bone from hitting bone as the joint moves. If the cartilage dries, roughens, or chips, bare bones are exposed. The exposed bone flattens and loses resilience so the joint no longer moves smoothly; it jerks and creaks. In response, the body sends white blood cells to the joint, but instead of repairing damage, the white blood cells release enzymes and free radicals that make things worse. The synovial fluid bathing the joint loses viscosity because it is damaged by the white blood cells' enzymes. As the synovial fluid thins, it's no longer able to resist joint compression or provide lubrication. Eventually, even the capsule that surrounds the joint inflames. The pet then has painful arthritis.
 Canine and Feline Arthritis Symptoms
Loss of interest to play or walk
Difficulty rising
Difficulty with stairs
Snaps when petted
Some symptoms of arthritic dogs and cats are that the pet may have lame or stiff joints. They may also have swollen and painful joints that creak. Some pets hide their arthritis pain, but you'll notice they don't want to play because it's difficult to run and wrestle. They can't leap on or off the bed, or climb into a car without help. Some pets bite at, or lick, their joints because they ache. Other pets bite us when their joints ache. That's one reason a ten-year-old Golden Retriever who has loved children all her life, now snaps at the grandkids. 
With arthritic cats, it can be difficult to diagnose feline arthritis because they are naturally agile. Cats' agility allows them to compensate for arthritis and we may not notice limping. Instead, cats with arthritis display signs of chronic pain. They're grumpy and poorly groomed. They may be constipated because it is difficult for them to squat to eliminate. They take several small jumps rather than that single leap to reach the counter. If you notice these signs, consider having your veterinarian evaluate your cat for joint disease. X-rays may reveal arthritis. In fact, there is evidence of feline arthritis in 90% of cats over 12 years of age.

How Are Pets Diagnosed with Arthritis?
Early in the arthritic disease process, only "soft" tissues, such as cartilage and joint membranes, are affected. Soft tissue disease is almost impossible to detect on an X-ray, but the joint will be swollen and painful. As boney changes become evident, X-rays will clearly show arthritic changes. Bones will be flattened rather than rounded, and little spicules of bone may line the joint. 
The diagnosis of septic (infectious) arthritis or bacterial arthritis in dogs and cats is done with blood tests and an analysis of the fluid surrounding the joint. With an infection, synovial fluid contains infection-fighting white blood cells and bacteria. Rheumatoid arthritis in cats and dogs is diagnosed with blood tests that show the body is attacking its own joints. Using blood, a Coombs test, antinuclear antibody test (ANA), and rheumatoid factor test help confirm rheumatoid arthritis. With time, X-rays will also confirm the presence of arthritis. When overweight, arthritic pets lose weight, their arthritic pain significantly decreases.

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