Arthritis in dogs & cats, a degenerative joint disease, is a general term marked by abnormal conditions of the joint and surrounding tissues that occurs when cartilage is worn away quicker than it can regenerate. When the protective cartilage that cushions the joint wears away, it creates friction between the bones and becomes swollen and painful.
Please, do not give your pet over-the-counter pain medication (or medication not prescribed to them), without first consulting us here at Safari.
As painful as it is for our pets, it is equally emotionally painful for us to see them in this condition. We want to do what is best for our pets and their quality of life and, foremost, relieve them of their pain as quickly as possible. When we are in physical pain ourselves, we may not hesitate to grab a bottle of pain relieving medicine, but think twice when it comes to your pet. Several medications are extremely toxic, including ibuprofen, so please, do not give your pet over-the-counter pain medication (or medication not prescribed to them), without first consulting us here at Safari.
Arthritis in pets can affect any breed at any age (cat or dog), therefore, it is good to know and watch for these risk factors:
Their Breed (ie. Hereditary/Genetic Disorder) Obesity
Joint Abnormalities (ie. Hip Dysplasia)
Stress or Trauma to the Joints (ie. Hit by a car, or for the working dog, repetitive motions)
Infections (ie. Ehrlichiosis, Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever)
Arthritis in cats is more prevalent than previously thought, simply because cats mask their pain even more so than dogs.
Dog arthritis symptoms include discomfort, pain, inflammation and lameness that eventually leads to bone damage and severely restricted mobility making them reluctant to run, jump, climb and/or play.
Specific breeds that are more susceptible due to hereditary factors:
Cat breeds genetically predisposed to Arthritis are the Himalayan, Persian and Siamese.
Dog breeds genetically predisposed to Arthritis are the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, Old English Sheepdog, Rottweiler and Saint Bernard.
Common Treatment Protocol
Anti-inflammatory medications are usually prescribed for pain control, along with cold laser, heat and possibly acupuncture treatments. Maintaining a healthy weight is also very important in managing your pet’s arthritis pain. Essential fatty acids (such as fish oil or flax seed oi) are used as a natural anti-inflammatory. Additional natural supplements being used today are glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, and are believed to have health benefits as well.
Note: It is important to mention that these common dog arthritis treatments may slow down progression of the disease and manage symptoms to some degree, but they do not correct structural damage to the pet’s joints.
Stem Cell Therapy Treatment
Most arthritis treatments for dogs can only slow down progression of the disease and mask symptoms. However, stem cells can actually regenerate cartilage in the joints, just as it was when the animal was an infant. Your pet can be treated with stem cells, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), or IRAP (Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein.)
PRP, IRAP, and Stem Cell Therapy Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) are three all-natural tools Safari uses to help alleviate conditions such as arthritis in your pet. These treatments begin with a sample of your pet’s blood to naturally combat joint inflammation and arthritis and are capable of slowing cartilage destruction and improving mobility.
PRP, or platelet-rich plasma, is a concentration of platelet cells harvested from your pet’s own blood which are then activated. Platelets are one of the first cells to arrive at the site of an injury and coordinate the inflammation and repair process. Once activated, platelets release growth factors used in this repair process. PRP not only reduces inflammation, it slows and repairs damage to cartilage and improves blood supply to the area to speed up healing.
PRP is a less costly way to treat your pet’s inflamed joints than IRAP or stem cell therapy, yet still provides a quick-acting method of increased healing to the damaged area.
IRAP, or Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein, is a natural anti-inflammatory protein released by white blood cells at the site of injury. It is considered a master regulator of inflammation and is therefore effective in treating conditions like arthritis which can lead to lameness, decreased range-of-motion, and pain.
In order to amass more of these IRAP proteins, we take a sample of your pet’s blood and separate the IRAP serum which can then be injected into arthritic joints. This serum also contains growth factors which add additional anti-inflammatory abilities. This IRAP serum can substantially reduce inflammation, decrease lameness, and relieve your pet’s pain when injected into the afflicted joints. IRAP treatments can provide pain relief for 1 year or more.
To obtain IRAP serum, the pet’s blood is collected and incubated in the tube pictured. Specialized glass beads are used to stimulate the white blood cells into producing the needed IRAP molecules and other growth factors. This process takes between 6 and 9 hours. The sample is then centrifuged to separate out the serum, which at this point can be injected into the affected joint the same day the blood is taken.
Think of IRAP as next-level effectiveness than PRP in terms of healing, reduction of inflammation, and in lasting effects. IRAP is more costly than PRP and about the same cost as stem cell therapy. Our doctors can help you decide if IRAP is the optimal solution to your pet’s painful joints.
Stem cells can be directed to repair cartilage, bone, muscle, and many other types of tissue if placed into damaged areas of these tissues. By giving additional stem cells to your pet’s joints we are sending in additional troops to help support the existing stem cell army regrow tissue cells and repair damage.
When tissue is damaged, there is a release of chemicals that signal the repair process to begin. The purpose of this signal is to attract healing cells to the area of injury and direct these healing cells to reduce inflammation, regenerate tissue, or whatever is needed. In all cases these healing cells are stem cells.
The use of stem cells in place of PRP or IRAP treatments will provide the joint with longer lasting help. When injected directly into the pet’s joint, stem cells are “corralled” where they are most needed. They continuously secrete growth factors, reduce inflammation, modulate the immune system, and regenerate injured tissue for up to 6 months.
Stem cells are the “Cadillac” of joint treatments, with results seen in just a few months. They are about the same cost as IRAP.
Acupuncture and cold lasers can help reduce your pet’s pain in arthritis, and treatment protocols will be tailored to their specific needs.
For cats, there are few pain medications licensed for long term use; limiting treatment options.
For dogs, anti-inflammatories can be prescribed for pain control; cost is dependent on the dog’s weight.
Improve Comfort, Mobility & Quality of Life
There are a number of things that you can do now to alleviate your pet’s pain, add comfort to their life and help them get around better. Here are just a few suggestions:
Ramps and pet steps/stairs can help them get to their favorite place on the bed or couch, and help them into your vehicle for a tail-wagging ride!
Nonskid rugs/runners and stair treads can add padding and comfort as they walk around and prevent slips and injuries. To prevent a slippery floor, remember to add a rug in the area where they drink and eat; they will appreciate the padding under their paws!
Elevated food/water bowls for pets with neck and/or back pain. Having their bowls raised will reduce the strain and not add to their pain!
A comfy place to sleep that is well-cushioned, such as an orthopedic/memory foam bed is sure to be a hit as they hit the hay!
Non-slip dog booties/socks/shoes, because who likes cold paws when you get up from a warm bed! Not to mention, they can keep their paws at a comfortable temperature and add cushion for those little walks!
A harness or wheelchair for extra stability can make those little walks last a little longer, increase mobility and take some pressure off those painful joints!
Dog Braces and wraps can decrease pain and inflammation by offering support and stability by hugging the sore spots!
Warm compresses can soothe the soreness away. Pamper your pet cautiously! Avoid excess heat and additional injury!
Temperature control of their living quarters should be adjusted to a comfort level that is not too hot or too cold. You can control their comfort to some degree!
Muscle massages can stimulate blood flow, offering some much needed relief, and your pet may even lick you for it!