Text Box: will see weakness in the rear which may be due to DJD;  oftentimes this is a secondary problem and there is underlying hip dysplasia or other joint pathology present.
     Over the past several years a number of new options have become available for helping to relieve arthritis pain.  We are using more and more supplements such as glucosamine which aid in promoting healthy cartilage in the joints.  Glucosamine is available over the counter as a nutritional supplement;  one advantage is that it has very few side effects and interactions.
An injectable medication called Adequan belongs to a group called PSGAGs.  These, like glucosamine, protect the cartilage and have few side effects.  We have excellent results when used regularly.
     The most common class of drugs we use for arthritic dogs is NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.  This class of drugs includes Deramaxx, Rimadyl, and Metacam for dogs as well as aspirin, Tylenol, and ibuprofen for people.  It is important to note that you should NEVER give human NSAID drugs to your pet without specific instructions from your veterinarian as Text Box: many of the human label NSAIDS have a high risk of GI ulceration an/or perforation in dogs.  It is ESPECIALLY essential never to give a drug of this class to your  cat, as they are lacking an enzyme in the liver to metabolize these medications and even small doses may be deadly.  It is also important to never mix drugs from this class, or to use them with steroids such as prednisone unless specifically directed by your vet.
     Properly chosen and monitored, this class of drugs can provide very safe relief for your dog’s DJD.  In older pets we usually will check a blood panel prior to starting medication (see front page for our special this month!) and then every 6-12 months to monitor liver enzymes.  Many pets will show an immediate and dramatic response to treatment.  Quality of life can improve tremendously, and especially for our larger dogs we can extend their lives considerably by preserving their mobility.
     Ask us if your pet could benefit from treatment today!
Text Box:      Possibly the most common aging problem we see in our patients is arthritis.  Arthritis is inflammation of the joints;  it can have many different causes but in older pets we usually see degenerative arthritis (DJD).  Obesity is a common predisposing factor.  Many dogs have joint problems such as hip dysplasia (malformation of the hip joint) or luxating patellas (kneecaps which pop out of the groove) which create more wear and tear on the joint and result in DJD over time.   Canine athletes often develop arthritis as a result of wear and tear on the joints, just as human athletes do.  Dogs with poor structure  have more stress on the joints.
     Often the first signs of arthritis in your pet are slowness in rising, stiffness after getting up, or reluctance to go up or down stairs.  Often the pet will “warm out of” his stiffness after he has been up a while.  In large dogs we often Text Box: 	A good preventive health program can not only extend your pet’s lifespan, it can also keep him healthier and more active into old age.  Dental care is one important aspect of a good wellness program.  Routine blood panels can also help to detect disease before it becomes clinically apparent.  
     Because our dogs and cats can’t tell us when they aren’t feeling well, blood screening becomes an important tool.  We recommend pre-anesthetic blood screening for all pets.  Young, healthy pets may only need our in house mini-panel which gives us some very basic information.  For pets older than seven years of age, a full blood panel prior to anesthesia, or yearly on a routine basis, is recommended.  Because this panel is sent out to our lab, it must be done at least a day prior to the scheduled anesthesia (preferably a little earlier, in case problems are detected).  For many Text Box: pets, this bloodwork will be normal– that’s great!  We always hope for normal values that indicate our patients are in good health.  However we often find changes that indicate early disease.  Common changes seen include early kidney elevations, liver enzyme elevations, changes in white or red blood cell counts, and electrolyte abnormalities.  In my own pets, I have identified kidney disease, thyroid disease, elevated cholesterol, and low potassium before there were any clinical signs.  Finding these diseases early meant that we could address their problems before long term damage had occurred.  All of these pets lived at least one year after the first blood changes, and all but one lived well into old age .  I have no doubt that if we had waited until the pets showed signs of disease their lives would have been significantly shortened.
Text Box:      If your pet is on certain medications, routine blood monitoring may also be necessary to watch for side effects from these medications.  
     Next time you are in with your senior pet, ask about bloodwork to help us identify aging problems early!  And see our article on page one about special February discounts on geriatric panels– take advantage today!
Text Box: Arthritis:  a common aging problem
Text Box: Routine blood panels are an important wellness tool

Edgewood Animal Clinic