Tailoring a plan: International opinion on nutraceutical and multimodal management of joint health in dogs and cats (Sponsored by Nutramax Laboratories and Bioiberica)
Osteoarthritis afflicts many dogs and more cats than most in the veterinary profession have previously recognized, and today many treatment modalities are available to veterinarians. As nutraceutical research emerges and veterinarians gain experience with these products, it is evident that a complementary role exists for nutraceuticals in clinically managing joint health in companion animals.
In September 2013, an international group of clinicians, including orthopedic specialists, gathered in Vienna, Austria, to discuss their therapeutic strategies and the efficacy and usefulness of a multimodal approach in canine and feline patients with joint disease.
Osteoarthritis in dogs and cats
Changes in behavior or lifestyle at home alert us to the fact that the cat might have osteoarthritis. These cats stop jumping. They don't play with the owners like they used to or with other cats in the household. They don't hunt or groom themselves like they used to. They have problems using their litter tray. While all these clues could indicate other problems, they are highly suggestive of osteoarthritis, which should be at the top of the differential diagnosis list.
Owners often interpret these changes as part of the normal aging process. You've got to ask the owner specific questions relating to the cat's behavior. Owner assessment forms are being developed by a number of groups. The form we use is divided into four behavioral domains — mobility, activity, temperament, and grooming habits.1
The behavioral changes in cats with osteoarthritis are also seen in dogs. That is important because in some small dog breeds lameness can be less evident. Cats with osteoarthritis pose other diagnostic challenges. With cats, arthritic joints often are not thickened to the same degree as in dogs, and cats don't have the large synovial effusions. Crepitus is also rare in cats.