HCF Fit and Well : Summer 2012
PETS 20 ﬁt&well Photos: iStockphoto It can seem cats and dogs are always playful and energetic, but in reality they can suffer joint problems as they age. "Around 20 per cent of dogs are affected by arthritis," says Dr David Neck, President of the Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association. "In cats, recent evidence suggests up to 90 per cent may have arthritis when they reach 12 years and over." Some joint problems are genetic, others due to injury or lifestyle. Here are some tips to help your pet. Recognise the signs "Limping and lameness that is worse in the morning or after exercise may be a sign of joint problems in dogs," says Dr Neck. "Trouble jumping into the car, getting up from lying down or getting down from standing up are also classic signs of hip arthritis." With cats, symptoms may be A joint matter Protect your family pet against joint problems and enjoy being active together for years to come. harder to read. "Rather than limping, cats with joint problems will often stop jumping down off furniture and try to 'walk' down the leg of a chair to reduce jarring on landing," he says. Other signs include withdrawal and an unkempt coat. Keep joints healthy The following will help prevent joint problems in your pet: Healthy weight: "Weight gain is the number one cause of joint problems in pets," says Dr Neck. "Keeping your pet lean can protect against arthritis because less stress is placed on joints." Good diet: See your vet about the best diet for your pet; avoid big portions or too many snacks. Daily exercise: Regular movement keeps your dog's weight down and strengthens supportive Receive 10% off HCF Pet Insurance HCF pet insurance can help if your pet falls ill. Members receive a 10% discount on new HCF Pet Insurance policies. For information, see www.hcf.com.au/petinsurance. This product is issued and underwritten by The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd ABN 78 090 584 473 (AFSL No. 241436). Consider the combined Financial Services Guide and Product Disclosure Statement available at www.hcf.com.au before deciding to buy or continue to hold this product. Health fact Weight gain is the No.1 cause of joint problems in pets. PET PHYSIOTHERAPY According to Dogs NSW's Dr Peter Higgins, qualified physiotherapists can help pets with joint problems by designing programs, including exercises and sometimes massage to: • reduce pain • maximise flexibility • increase the strength of the muscles • improve function. tissue like ligaments and muscles. If your dog has arthritis, aim for gentler daily activities such as short walks, swimming and balance exercises. Treatment options "Treatments can help improve flexibility, repair cartilage and reduce pain," says Dr Peter Higgins, veterinary advisor for Dogs NSW. Treatments include: Medication: Chondroprotective drugs help lubricate joints and repair cartilage, while non- steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) reduce inflammation and pain. Supplements : Glucosamine and fish oil can be very beneficial. Surgery: Although costly, this can be done to replace joints or stabilise loose joints.