Bone health is vital for your pet, as they support the whole body. Many bone diseases can affect your pet, but they all present similar symptoms such as pain and limping. To maintain the health of their pet, it is vital that owners recognize early signs of bone diseases and seek treatment.
The term arthritis refers to the inflammation of an internal joint. It is not just a condition for older pets. Young animals may also develop it due to an injury, or if their joints are shaped poorly by congenital defects. Pain and inflammation develop in a joint when cartilage–connective tissue which serves as a shock absorber between bones–becomes damaged or compromised.
You may see your cat or dog rising slower or have difficulty climbing or jumping stairs as arthritis progresses. Pets with arthritis may develop a limp or have other changes in their gait. There are a number of therapeutic methods for treating and alleviating arthritis.
Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for pets with arthritis. Encourage your dog to do moderate, regular exercise. This will help them burn more calories, and reduce stiffness, without putting additional stress on their joints. Swimming is an excellent option for dogs who love the water.
This includes a variety of medical treatments. You can ask your veterinarian for recommendations regarding joint supplements, medications that relieve pain, laser therapy, and acupuncture. Certain causes of arthritis such as elbow or hip dysplasia often need surgical intervention.
Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that can occur after a trauma, like a bite, fracture or laceration, where the skin barrier was compromised. Through the bloodstream, systemic infections may also affect bone. Dogs and cats that have bone infections may exhibit symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and a decreased appetite. It is common for the affected area to be painful, swollen, red and hot.
Your pet will require a veterinarian to conduct a physical examination, along with blood tests and urine cultures, as well as radiographs. Your pet may need to be hospitalized for support care or undergo surgery depending on the severity and nature of the infection.
The three common bone metabolic disorders in dogs are Panosteitis Osteochondrosis and Hypertrophic Ossystrophy. Although the cause of osteochondrosis, and hypertrophic dystrophy has not been determined yet, it is believed that nutrition plays a part. These three bone disorders are most common in large or giant breeds of dogs and usually occur before the dog reaches one year of age. The diagnosis will be based on the physical examination findings as well as radiographic changes.
Owners of dogs with metabolic bone diseases are most likely to notice lameness. Panosteitis or hypertrophic dystrophy may also lead to fever, weakness, and decreased appetite.
Treatment must include pain management. Some dogs with panosteitis or hypertrophic dystrophy who have systemic symptoms may require extra supportive care, such as intravenous liquid therapy. The best treatment for dogs who have osteochondrosis is surgery. Although anti-inflammatory medications and pain medication can help, it’s not the ideal option.
The primary reason for broken bones in cats and dogs is trauma. Bone fractures can be caused by car accidents, falls, and fights between animals. Open or closed fractures are classified. A compounded or open fracture is characterized by protrusion through the skin of the bone. It should be treated immediately by a vet to avoid infection.
Fractures can cause severe, acute pain in pets. They may lash out at you or bite when touched. It is therefore important to be cautious when handling an injured animal. To protect yourself against bites, you can use a makeshift muff (long socks, neckties, or leashes) on large dogs. Wrapping cats and small dogs in blankets will provide warmth and comfort. The blanket can also act as a barrier between your teeth and theirs. Be gentle with injured animals and try to immobilize any fractured bones.
Splinting or resting the bone may be sufficient for healing, depending on its severity and location. Open fractures or closed fractures where the bone has been broken multiple times, along the entire length of the bones are surgically corrected. Open fractures require antibiotics for pets in order to avoid infection. After bone surgery, the veterinary team provides detailed instructions on home care.
Dogs and cats may develop bone tumors anywhere in the body, including long bones in the limbs, the toes of their feet, the spinal vertebrae in the spine, the ribs, or the skull. Cancer cells may spread from another site or directly into the bone. Cats are rarely affected by primary or metastatic bone tumors.
The location of the tumor determines the symptoms. Lameness is a common symptom of tumors that affect the limbs. Long bone tumors are often missed because they can present like arthritis or acute injuries. When resting and taking pain medication do not relieve the pain in your bones, an x-ray may reveal cancer.
It is difficult to tell if swelling or pain in a cat or dog’s toe is due to an infection or cancer because the symptoms often overlap. Radiographic changes in the pet’s toe do not always distinguish between infection and tumor. When antibiotics or pain medication do not improve the condition, amputation of the toe is necessary in order to get a biopsy for a definitive diagnosis.
Various tests will be required to identify the type and severity of cancer in all cases of bone tumors. The veterinarian of your pet will conduct a physical examination, and take blood tests and X-rays to determine the type of cancer. To determine the extent of metastatic disease and to stage your pet’s condition, additional tests are performed. These include chest radiographs (CT scans), bone scans, and CT scans. To obtain a definitive diagnosis, a bone biopsy is sent to a pathologist.
The treatment options available for pet owners with bone tumors depend on the type and stage of the tumor at diagnosis, as well as the age of the animal, any concurrent diseases, and their financial capability. Palliative treatment may be an option for some people who have aging pets with additional health issues. Palliative medicine aims to provide comfort and pain relief, not prolong the life of patients.
Dogs suffering from Osteosarcoma – the most common form of bone tumor – will need to have their affected limb amputated or undergo a limb-sparing procedure. The disease can affect dogs of any size, but is more common in giant and large breeds. Due to the high metastatic potential of osteosarcoma surgery is usually followed by chemotherapy. Dogs and cats both do well after limb amputation. This option shouldn’t be ignored for aesthetic reasons.
Early diagnosis and proper care can help manage the majority of bone disorders. You can seek help from your pet’s veterinarian, orthopedic specialist and oncologist to meet the needs of your cat or dog.