FEELING THE YEARS As dogs grow older, they often need to be treated for a range of age-related issues, from arthritis to urinary incontinence.
The vet's view
Thank you to each and everyone who e-mailed me with your pet related queries this past month. Due to the volume of queries, I will touch on a couple in this column, and hopefully get to more over the next few months.
There were a number of reoccurring themes, which shows how common certain issues are when it comes to problems with our pets.
Q. What can I do to help my arthritic dog?
Arthritis in pets, similar to that in humans, has numerous causes and presentations. By far the most common type of arthritis in pets is osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is a progressive and persistent long-term deterioration of the cartilage surrounding the joints. There is no known cause of primary osteoarthritis. There is however, numerous reasons for what is known as secondary osteoarthritis, such as trauma to a joint, abnormal wear on joints, congenital defects and auto-immune disease, which contributes to cartilage deterioration. Obesity and age are other contributing factors.
Managing osteoarthritis in dogs includes any one or a number of combinations of medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, joint supplements, omega-3 fatty acids. Other treatments include things like acupuncture; massage; weight loss (there are now numerous foods on the market, supplemented with products that help alleviate osteoarthritis. and its symptoms); exercise, if possible – especially swimming, which has low impact on joints.
Anti-inflammatory injections directly into affected joints at regular intervals are now routinely given. In severe cases, surgery – such as hip replacement – can be performed if necessary.
Maximising your dog’s comfort with things like padded bedding, warmth, ramps to assist with climbing and jumping and non-skid rugs etc all help greatly.
Early intervention is key to helping with disease processes like osteoarthritis, as in most cases this can slow the inevitable progression of symptoms and pain.
Q. Why is my eleven-year-old dog suddenly urinating in the house?
Older neutered female dogs can very commonly develop urine leakage (urinary incontinence) that quite often they don’t even realise is happening. There are of course numerous reasons for urinary incontinence, but a sudden on-set in an older female usually indicates a loss in bladder sphincter tone due to decreased oestrogen levels in the body.
Having ruled out any other cause, such as a urinary tract infection or kidney disease, hormone-replacement therapy with a daily pill of oestrogen can and usually does dramatically improve if not completely deal with the urine leakage.
Looking forward to answering more of your queries next month.
Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment. All readers’ questions about pet health are welcome. Please email your queries to Conal at firstname.lastname@example.org.