Joint issues are often a problem for dogs. So much so, in fact, that veterinarians nationwide prescribe medication to ailing dogs every day to help alleviate symptoms caused by joint issues such as arthritis. These symptoms can include a decreased level of activity, lameness and a stiff gait that worsens with exercise. Fortunately, there are things that can help your dog.
Also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs can have beneficial effects on many dogs with joint issues, especially those with arthritis. The most commonly used NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen and carprofen. Meloxicam is another NSAID that is available in liquid form. However, it's important that you carefully follow your veterinarian's instructions when using NSAIDs, as they may cause liver, kidney and gastric disorders in dogs.
Joint swelling and inflammation can also be alleviated with prednisone, dexamethasone and other corticosteroids. These drugs must be carefully regulated by a veterinarian because long-time use may contribute to additional joint damage.
If the joint pain is far too excruciating, your veterinarian may recommend surgical intervention. They will attempt to remodel your dog's joint(s) in order to increase range of motion and remove damaged cartilage or tissue.
Some veterinarians recommend using NSAIDs or steroids as well as placing your dog in a weight control and exercise program. There are even dietary supplements such as nutraceuticals (e.g., Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate) that can help alleviate joint pain and maintain healthy cartilage.
Discuss with your veterinarian the pros and cons of each of these methods and be attentive to your pet. If you notice any adverse reactions to medication or if your dog's condition becomes worse, contact your veterinarian immediately.
It can be troublesome when your cat is suffering from urinary issues. There are sometimes difficult to diagnose and often extremely painful for the cat. So where does your veterinarian start? If a urinary issue is suspected, he or she will typically perform a physical examination and a urinalysis. Then, depending on the results, other diagnostic methods such as urine cultures may be used.Bacterial Infection
Let's look at three of the most common urinary diseases plaguing cats today and how to treat them.
Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC)
Also known as Idiopathic Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (IFLUTD), Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS), or Interstitial Cystitis, Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) is a frustrating situation for pet owners and veterinarians alike. This is because the underlying cause is not always simple to determine. Research has shown that cats with FIC tend to have a neurohormone imbalance, making them especially sensitive to environmental stress (due to boredom, separation anxiety, dirty litter boxes, etc.)
Eating canned food can also help cats with FIC. This is believed to be due to the water found in canned food. A well-hydrated cat produces dilute urine, which is less irritating and "washes away" inflammation from the bladder wall. Dilute urine is also beneficial if your cat has been diagnosed with urinary crystals or stones, so talk with your veterinarian to determine if an over-the-counter or prescription cat food is best for your cat.
Some veterinarians have begun to prescribe their patients some dietary or injectable supplements, such as glycosaminoglycan, to treat FIC as well. Consult your veterinarian if this may be helpful for your cat.
Typically, feline bladder stones (or uroliths, as vets like to call them) are composed of either struvite or calcium oxalate crystals. While this may sound like an esoteric distinction, this determination is actually very important when planning treatment. Struvite stones will usually dissolve when a cat eats a specific type of food or is treated with a urinary acidifier, while calcium oxalate stones require surgery to remove them.
Veterinarians can usually determine what type of stone a cat has by examining a urine sample under the microscope, looking for one type of crystal versus the other. Evaluating the pH of a cat’s urine also helps with the diagnosis.
Though relatively uncommon in young, healthy cats, the incidence of urinary tract infections (UTI) increases as cats age, or if they have a predisposing condition, like diabetes mellitus. A cat presenting signs of lower urinary tract disease will typically be prescribed antibiotics. Consult your veterinarian if this may be helpful for your cat.
Heartworms are a serious matter. Once bitten by an infected mosquito, your dog can contract the parasite and begin to show serious complications such as heart inflammation and damage in as little as a year. Fortunately, there are heartworm preventive drugs that protect your dog from ever suffering such a fate. Using these types of medication is much cheaper, easier, and safer than treating your dog once s/he has a full-blown case of heartworm disease.
Of course, it's important you consult with your veterinarian first. They will help you determine what type of medication is appropriate for your dog and the proper dosage, which is based on your dog's age, weight, and health status. There are several kinds of heartworm preventive medications commonly used today. Many of these products have multiple benefits, and some also control intestinal parasites as well as external parasites.
Common active ingredients used in heartworm preventive products today include ivermectin and milbemycin. Ivermectin has been used for decades to prevent heartworm disease in cats and dogs. There are rarely side effects, if given at the proper dosage, but some dogs may experience vomiting, diarrhea, or incoordination. In addition, certain breeds of dog are at risk of having sensitivity to ivermectin and milbemycin. So it best to consult with your veterinarian prior to administering the drugs.
Sometimes referred to as spot-on medication, newer topical formulas are able to prevent not only heartworms, but also fleas and ticks. Depending on the brand of heartworm preventive you choose, the monthly application may contain one of two popular active ingredients: selamectin and moxidectin. These parasiticides work by absorbing into the animal’s skin and collecting in the oil glands under the skin. From there, the drug dispenses slowly over time, protecting your dog. Adverse reactions to these medications are rare, but do occur.
When applying topical medications, you want to be careful not to get it on your skin or in your eyes. It also important that you wash your hands after handling these medications and that you follow the label's instructions exactly. Keep your dog indoors and separate him or her from other animals or children while the medication is absorbed (about 30 minutes).