Stiff in the morning?
Problems climbing stairs?
No energy anymore?
Many older animals develop arthritis and it can be very debilitating. However, there is a lot that owners can do to help and relieve their pet of some, if not all of the pain associated with arthritis. Arthritis literally means an inflammation of the joints. In some animals, it can be traced back to an initiating cause such as an injury to the joint or a deformity within it, although the arthritis may only become apparent years later. However, in most cases, it is something that just appears with old age. In either case, the disease itself is progressive and will continue in a predictable way, despite the initiating cause.
If changes occur to a joint so that it no longer moves correctly, the subsequent forces will cause wear and tear to the cartilage and other structures within the joint. This in turn leads to inflammation and pain. However, inflammation will cause further changes to the joint and so a vicious cycle is started. Hence arthritis is a chronic disease which causes gradual degeneration of the joint over time.
Unfortunately, this degeneration is irreversible, and it is not possible to cure an animal of arthritis once acquired. It can, however, be controlled and with careful treatment and management pets with arthritis may live with little or no pain.
It has now become clear that good dental hygiene is as important for animals as it is for humans.
Unfortunately, many animals will develop dental disease which in turn leads to pain and discomfort, drooling and halitosis. Worse still, the bacteria that cause the disease can also get into the blood stream leading to infection in the kidneys, liver and heart.
As with humans prevention is always better than cure and there are several things you can do to keep your pet’s teeth clean. At the dental clinic, we can talk through these and get your pet onto a regular dental care regime which should prevent any unpleasant trips to the dentist later on! Cats and dogs are like us – after each meal, plaque (an adhesive layer of bacteria) forms on the animal’s teeth.
If this is not removed it will eventually solidify to form tartar. Tartar provides an ideal surface for further bacteria to adhere and so with time large deposits develop. The presence of the tartar, and the bacteria within it, irritate the gum and cause inflammation (gingivitis). If this remains untreated the gums will begin to recede allowing bacteria to penetrate deep along the roots of the teeth where they can form an abscess. This in turn will cause erosion of the supportive tissues and loss of the teeth.
With any diabetic it is of the utmost importance that a constant treatment routine is adhered to closely, to ensure that the disease is kept under control.
It can be difficult to get this right and we sometimes find that the routine may need to be altered over time. For this reason, we recommend seeing a nurse at regular intervals so that they can check your animal and talk through any problems that arise.
As your pet gets older, they are at an increased risk of developing diseases.
Commonly, older patients suffer from dental problems, stiff and aching joints, obesity, as well as more serious problems such as liver, kidney or thyroid gland diseases.
Any changes in your pet’s weight, appetite, thirst, demeanour or ability to exercise may indicate that they have a problem. If these changes are brought to the attention of your veterinary surgeon, many diseases can be well managed or treated.
We believe that after any procedure our duty of care does not finish when the animal leaves the practice. We therefore ask to see the patient at least once more afterwards to ensure they are making the best possible recovery. This lets us ensure that your pet is recovering well and allows you to raise any concerns that you may have.
Following on from the operation, your pet will need careful nursing, attention and loving care!
When your pet is discharged from the practice, information on post-operative recovery will be given to you. The following advice will ensure that they make a full recovery.
- Your pet may be still drowsy/light-headed from the anaesthesia/sedative. Please keep quiet and warm. It is possible that they may be unsteady for the following 24 to 48 hours.
- Please keep a check on the surgical wound, at least twice a day for any abnormalities (discharge, swelling, bleeding etc.) Please prevent any licking or scratching, this can delay wound healing and can aide in introducing infection.
- A small light meal and water should be offered that evening and the following day feed as normal unless directed otherwise. Suggestions of what to feed include: Chicken & rice, plain white fish, scrambled egg without any milk. Please don’t feed anything too rich or oily.
- Fur is shaved where some injections and surgical incisions have been made, as the area needs to be cleaned and made sterile. The hair will grow back; it can in some instances however change in shade slightly.
- The amount of exercise your pet will be able to do will be explained to you on discharge. It is important the appropriate exercise is adhered to. Any increase in exercise after certain operations can cause post-operative complications, delaying the time further until your pet is able to exercise as before.
For the majority of procedures (especially operations) pain relieving injections are given. Predominately, in the medication they are given before the surgery (‘a pre-med’) a strong pain killer is given alongside a sedative, and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relief injection (NSAID) is also typically given unless contra-indicated (this lasts for 24 hours).
If stitches are in place, you will be advised on discharge if they will be required to be removed or not.
Cats should be kept indoors for 24 hours after an anaesthetic, this duration may increase if your cat has any bandages or a surgical incision.
An Elizabethan (Buster) Collar may be on your pet when you pick them up. It must be kept on at all times. If your pet is unable to eat with it on, it must be removed, but put back on immediately afterwards. Using a cone is one of the only ways we are able to prevent them doing any damage to the affected site.
We will advise you on any necessary ongoing home treatment which should be strictly adhered to. If they are given any medication, there will be instructions on the packaging; you will be informed on discharge what to do. If you have any questions about the medication, or your pet develops side effects, please ring the surgery asap.
We will advise you when to return for the post-operative check. The ‘check-up’ is free but this does not include any further medication if required. Typically, after a surgical operation they will return in 48hours and 10 days, this will be advised on discharge.
Many dogs and cats are over-weight, and this can lead to all sorts of problems later in life, including arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.
However, even for the most committed of owners, it can be very difficult to get the weight off. These regular clinics provide help and instruction on feeding and exercising, as well as many other useful hints and advice. We will keep a graph of your pet’s weight and in no time you should start to see the pounds drop off!
Visit our Pet Nutrition page for more advice on your pet's nutrition.