2001-Thu Apr 27 16:50:03 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Does your older kitty have a little less spring in his step?
Does it take a tad longer these days for your senior pup to lumber down the street on his nightly stroll?
According to Dr. Tamara Walker, DVM, a board-certified veterinary surgeon at Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services in Seattle, arthritis is the most common reason why cats and dogs don't get around as well as they used to in their younger years.
“Just like in humans, animal joints experience a lot of wear and tear," says Dr. Walker. "Over a lifetime of use, they can get inflamed and develop arthritis.”
But orthopedic concerns aren’t the only culprit.
“Neurological issues, like chronic disc disease in the spinal cord or degeneration of the spinal cord, can also cause slower movement in older animals,” she says, adding that if the cause is neurological, not only is there a lack of mobility but the animal is more likely to be wobbly, walk as if he were tipsy or drag his back feet.
Dr. Walker also points out that orthopedic and neurological issues tend to be more common in larger dog breeds — and often show up at younger ages. Other health issues, like diabetes and vision issues, can also exacerbate problems with agility as an animal ages.
Fortunately, there are ways to help your pet age gracefully — and better cope with joint pain.
“The most important thing is to keep them active,” says Dr. Walker, adding that you should talk to your veterinarian about a daily exercise routine that takes your pet's individual medical issues into account.
Another option for critters in their golden years: physical therapy. “Really old dogs can benefit from nonimpact activities, like using an underwater treadmill once or twice a week,” says Dr. Walker.
You can also talk to your vet about anti-inflammatories for an arthritic animal, as well as adding glucosamine to your pet's diet. “Glucosamine is better as a preventive that's introduced when they’re younger, especially for larger breeds,” she says.
Surgery has also been proven to treat certain orthopedic and neurological conditions really well — even in old dogs, says Dr. Walker. But it’s not right for every pet.
“It’s best for sudden injuries. For example, one day your dog is walking around just fine, and the next day he can hardly get up off the floor,” she says. “But if it’s a degenerative problem, and your pet is slowly getting worse, it’s rare that surgery can help. It’s better to manage the condition with physical activity and possibly medication.”
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.