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Humanimals
44 Rankeilor Street
Dunedin South, New Zealand, 9012

reception@humanimals.co.nz
www.humanimals.co.nz
Phone: 03 456 2345
Contents of this newsletter

01  Lenno's arthritis

02  The subtle signs of arthritis

03  The many ways we can treat arthritis

04  How to make your home arthritis friendly

05  When the time comes....the hard decision

06  Cat hits dog's turbo button

01 Lenno's arthritis
lenno

Last month we introduced you to Lenno. He had recently been diagnosed with dry eye and had commenced on some eye medication to help improve his tear production. We are pleased to say that he has responded well to the medication and his eyes are improving. He will need regular tear tests and ongoing medication but things are looking good (pardon the pun).

This month we'd like to discuss Lenno's arthritis. He suffers from osteoarthritis of the hip as he has mild hip joint deformity. The ball of his hip joint doesn't sit in the socket very well allowing extra mobility and wear and tear of the joint.

This is a mild form of hip dysplasia. It is genetic and can affect certain breeds of dogs (mostly large breed dogs) but there are also environmental factors involved including diet, obesity and exercise.

Diagnosis was made with a thorough veterinary examination and was confirmed with x-rays.

Lenno's arthritis is managed with monthly arthritis injections and strict weight management. Lenno loves food so this might sound like a challenge but thankfully it's not so bad as he is on a prescription diet to keep his weight in a healthy range avoiding extra stress on his joints. It also helps to preserve joint cartilage and slow the progression of his arthritis. 

If you would like more information about arthritis and the treatments available we encourage you to read on as we have plenty of 'gems' to share this month.

02 The subtle signs of arthritis
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Our pets are more likely to feel the effects of arthritis during the colder weather so now is the best time for an arthritis check with us. Most of the signs of arthritis are subtle and you may not even realise your pet is in pain.

Arthritis is caused by the loss of the smooth cartilage that covers the bones at the end of a joint. This cartilage usually helps joints move freely and comfortably but over time, the ends of the bones become exposed and rub together. 

Your pet may not necessarily have a limp and won't yelp or cry out in pain. Watch out for the more subtle signs:

Dogs:

  • Trouble jumping up on to furniture or in to the boot of the car
  • Stiff and sore especially in the morning or after lying down
  • Sleeping more and lying around for longer periods of time
  • Changes in behaviour such as being more grumpy than usual
  • Muscle loss along the spine and down the legs

Cats

  • Hesitant to jump down from your lap or from furniture
  • Land in a heap when jumping down
  • Reluctant to climb
  • Reduced grooming leading to a poorly kept coat and matted fur 

    Don’t be tempted to put these changes down to 'just getting old' as your pet may be in significant pain. Arrange a check up with us so we can examine your pet thoroughly.

03 The many ways we can treat arthritis
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If your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis don't despair! There are multiple ways we can treat the disease and help your pet live a longer and more comfortable life.

They key to managing the disease is a multi-targeted approach. If we use a combination of treatments it can help reduce the need for large amounts of medication and lessen the potential side effects of any one treatment.

Some of the treatments might include:

1. Disease modifying drugs 
Given as a regular injection, these help to relieve pain and help to preserve joint cartilage. They can also improve the joint fluid meaning the joints are better lubricated and more comfortable when they move. They can be given as weekly, monthly or tri-monthly injections. 

2. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These help to reduce pain and inflammation. They can be given short term but may be needed for the rest of your pet’s life (as long as we monitor your pet’s kidney and liver function). They can be given in conjunction with other pain reducing drugs. Never give human pain relief medications to your pet. 

3. Diets formulated for joint health
A diet high in essential fatty acids (with added nutriceuticals as discussed below) may help reduce inflammation, decrease pain and improve your pet’s mobility. Prescription joint diets can also help keep your pet in a healthy weight range meaning there is less weight on your pet's joints. Ask us about the specific prescription diets we have available for joint health.

4. Nutriceuticals
Fish oil and green lipped mussel contain high levels of Omega-3 and may help reduce inflammation and pain. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may improve joint function and slow down the progression of arthritis. Human supplements are not appropriate for our pets so it is best to ask us for the best nutriceutical for your pet.

If your pet has arthritis, we will come up with a treatment plan and work with you to ensure your pet lives a happy and comfortable life. If you are worried about your pet you should always phone us for advice. 

04 How to make your home arthritis friendly
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To help your arthritic pet live a comfortable life there are a few things you can do at home:

Our number one tip is to keep your pet’s weight in a healthy range to reduce the load on the joint.

If your pet is carrying even just 10% more bodyweight than is ideal they can really suffer, as can their joints. Ask us for the best diet recommendation for your pet.

Other things you can do at home:

  • Provide a dry and comfortable bed with plenty of padding
  • Heated beds are a good idea for winter
  • Use a portable ramp to help your dog get in and out of the car 
  • Provide an additional piece of furniture so your cat doesn't have to jump so high to reach his favourite spot
  • Continue to exercise your pet in moderation; gentle daily walks for dogs help keep the joints moving and muscles active
When it comes to arthritis and your pet, we are always here to answer your questions. We will help keep your pet happy and comfortable and most importantly, pain free. 
05 When the time comes....the hard decision
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Making the decision to euthanize a beloved family pet is never easy; indeed, it may be one of the hardest decision you have to make.  Knowing when is the “right time” is especially difficult, and there is no simple answer. Veterinary staff can advise regarding medical conditions and pain assessment and the like. You, the owner may be the best judge of quality of life. You know your pet best but some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is your pet eating and drinking as normal (more or less?)
  • Does your pet exercise as much as previously? (all pets, like people slow down as they age)
  • Does your pet have difficulty getting up from bed?
  • Is your pet still actively interacting with you? For example, does your dog wag their tail as much as previously? Do they still greet you with enthusiasm when you come home?  Do they enjoy going for a walk or has that walk narrowed down to a garden stroll only? Does your cat still enjoy being stroked as before?  Do they still like to go outside?

A number of owners put off the decision because they are unsure of the process. Here we hope to put your mind at ease…

The hardest part is making the decision - with that decision made, often comes resolution and a sense of relief.

Other things to consider:

  • Would you prefer a home visit or to bring your pet to the clinic?
  • What to do with your pet afterwards? Options include home burial, cremation with ashes returned or cremation without the ashes being returned.
  • Is there an opportunity for family members to say goodbye, take a last photograph, take a lock of hair, a paw print, a shared final ice cream or similar treat?

Whether the euthanasia takes place at home or at the clinic, the process is similar. Should you wish to know more details about the process please follow this link.   http://www.humanimals.co.nz/Pet-Euthanasia-Information/

You can also talk to our staff about the process and answer any questions or concerns that you have.

06 Cat hits dog's turbo button

Before that difficult end of life desion, our pets give us much joy and laughter, check out this hilarious video of a cat 'hitting a dog's turbo button'. It's safe to say that this dog doesn't have any mobility issues! We especially love the cat's reaction...