Arthritis

Ouch! Do you ever experience sore joints on a chilly morning?

Like humans, our furry best friends can experience aches and pains caused by arthritis. These pains can become more intense over the cooler months - let us teach you a little about this common condition, so you can keep an eye out for symptoms and how to look after your pet before they become too uncomfortable.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a broad term that relates to inflammation of the joints (knees, elbows, shoulders etc.). It is known for causing discomfort, stiffness, pain and can often worsen as your pet grows older. Arthritis can affect all sorts of pets – from a tiny mouse to a 1.8m tall horse! Many different kinds of arthritis can affect your pet; some of the most common types we see are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What causes arthritis?

Depending on the type of arthritis your pet may be experiencing, the cause can vary greatly. Some of the more common causes we see include:

  • General 'wear and tear' – as your pet ages, their cartilage (a spongey, rubber-like material that covers the end of a bone, acting as a cushion) can start to break down.
  • Genetic – unfortunately, some types of arthritis can be passed down through family lines. It is important to be aware of this or talk to your Vet about genetic conditions if you are not sure!
  • Weight-gain – Carrying a few extra kilos can put additional stress on your pet's joints, especially when they are walking, running and jumping!

Arthritis symptoms to look out for

Arthritis affects every pet in different ways. Some of the most tell-tale signs your pet might be suffering are:

  • Limping or an unusual posture/stance when moving about
  • Stiffness, especially after exercise
  • A reluctance to move or stand up
  • Changed behaviour, such as a lack of interest in playing as usual or increased sleep
  • The inability to jump on furniture, climb stairs or jump into the car
  • Irritability or depression (lack of interest)
  • Growling or biting when touched
  • Visibly deformed or swollen joints

What to do if your pet is suffering from arthritis:

Visit your vet! There are so many treatments available today, thanks to modern medicine.
Depending on the severity and type of arthritis your pet is suffering, our team will tailor a treatment plan just to them! It is also important to check that your pet's arthritis isn't an indicator of a more sinister illness.

Treatments we can suggest range from dietary supplements, special diets, weight reduction plans for overweight pets, muscle massages, specialised strengthening exercises, laser treatments, acupuncture, anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical treatments and other pain relief. We can also give you some excellent advice about making your home more comfortable for your pet (think comfy bedding, stopping cold drafts, non-skid flooring and ramps!).

Arthritis can be efficiently managed with the help of your Vet – let's work together to make sure your best friend is enjoying life to the fullest! If you're worried about your pet or think they are showing signs of arthritis discomfort, please call you local vet to organise a consultation.

 


Separation Anxiety

You've likely been spending lots of time at home during the pandemic, and no doubt your dog has enjoyed this quality time with you. If like many, you've welcomed a new furry family member into your home during this period, they'll be very used to having you around most of the time. This poses a challenge for our pets when they start spending more time alone. Some dogs may take these new changes to their routine fine. But for other pets, it could bring about separation anxiety, which can be very distressing for dogs and owners alike.

Separation anxiety is one of the most common yet most underdiagnosed behavioural problems in dogs. The clinical signs of excessive barking, howling, destruction, self-mutilation, urination, and defecation can significantly affect both dogs and owners. Luckily, veterinarians understand separation anxiety, and there are treatment options available to manage this condition and improve the quality of life for your special furry family member.

Separation anxiety is distress experienced on separation from you as the owner(s). Anxiety is the "anticipation of future danger or misfortune" – Dr K Seksel. Dogs are social animals, and it is normal for a puppy to become attached to their litter and then subsequently to the human family that becomes their home.

Some dogs do not adjust to being without their owners and develop separation distress. Some dogs may become destructive or vocalise if under-stimulated and not provided with the appropriate physical exercise and mental stimulation. However, signs of separation anxiety become apparent when they are linked to the owner's departures or absence, when they cannot gain access to them and when they cannot adjust to their absences over time. These dogs are anxious and are not "acting out" or trying to spite their owners; they are having a difficult time and need help.

Pay attention to your dog's behaviour before you leave the house. Some possible signs to look for are:

• Signs of distress, especially when your dog sees cues that you are leaving like picking up keys, putting on shoes or applying make-up
• Following you around unusually
• Pacing
• Try desperately to go with you
• Reacting to noises unusually
• House soiling
• Panting and drooling
• Freezing
• Barking
• Scratching
• Other signs of distress

Some possible signs of separation anxiety while you're away from your dog include coming home to:

• Digging in the garden
• Destructive behaviours around the house
• Trying to escape
• Reports from neighbours of repetitive barking, whining or howling
• House soiling

If you notice any of these signs of separation anxiety, please speak to your veterinarian. Depending on the case, they may refer you to a veterinarian with further qualifications in behaviour or a veterinary behaviour specialist. Go prepared for your Vet consult with a thorough understanding of your dog's history, routine, and any changes to their routine that could be causing the anxiety.

Things your Vet may recommend to address your pet's separation anxiety:

• The use of calming pheromones, like Adaptil diffusers, sprays or collars
• Encouraging independence through positive reinforcement exercises
• Creating a structured and predictable routine for your dog
• Make departures and arrivals low-key (calmly speaking to your dog, but not ignoring them completely)
• Offering your dog food puzzles, long-lasting chews, and feeding devices to give your dog something to enjoy while you're away
• A focus on physical exercise and mental stimulation – a tired dog will be more likely to relax while when you're gone
• Desensitisation and counterconditioning to cues that hint you are leaving the home
• Enriching their environment – leave the radio on to make the house feel less quiet and empty. Make sure they have access to their favourite bed and toys.
• Medication or supplements to address the underlying anxiety

It is essential that a puppy or dog can cope with being left alone. In our busy lives, it's unrealistic to be with them 24/7, so separation anxiety needs to be addressed with your veterinarian. It may be a journey to help your distressed friend to find comfort on their own, but there are options available to help. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from separation anxiety, please give your local vet a call.


Spring cleaning hazards

Springtime is the perfect time to shake off those winter blues and freshen up our homes for the busier, warmer months ahead. While we are clearing out and cleaning up, some of the products and tools we use potentially threaten our pets if not handled properly!

Check out some of the issues that can occur for our furry and feathered friends when they come into contact with common household cleaning chemicals:

  • Ensure that any cleaning products you use are out of reach of your pets and stored securely, so they don’t end up accidentally ingesting any poisons. Also, be aware of where you’ve cleaned with a harsh chemical – sometimes, when dry, the residue might taste appealing to your pet.
  • Do not use aerosol sprays around pets, especially birds! Move the animals to another room altogether to avoid them breathing in any chemicals or particles.
  • Ensure that pet’s food and water supply is also clear of any chemicals you may be spraying – droplets and particles can easily contaminate food and water, leading to ingestion later on.
  • When disposing of chemicals or their container, be sure your pet cannot access the rubbish bin.
  • Bottle caps, elastic bands, plastic bags, sponges, and other scrubbing implements can become choking hazards, should they fall into the wrong paws! Make sure these are stored safely and out of reach of your pet.
  • When airing out your home for a clean, make sure that all window and door screens are secure and that your indoor pet cannot sneak out unnoticed!
  • Mops, sponges, and brooms can appear like a fun, interesting new toy for a playful puppy or curious kitten! Be sure to keep your fur-baby away from these to avoid any loose bristles being eaten.

If you suspect your pet has ingested or inhaled any cleaning poisons, call your nearest vet clinic immediately.

The following symptoms are signs your pet could be poisoned and seriously ill:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive sneezing and/or coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

If you have any questions or concerns, please call your local vet clinic immediately.