Our pets are our family. They provide us with companionship and unconditional love.
However, just like people, our four-legged family members are unfortunately prone to various health issues, and we want to make sure we do everything we can to prevent these issues. If we can’t prevent them, we want to at least do the best we can to give our pets the comfort and relief they need and deserve.
Both dogs and cats are prone to health issues at every stage of life, but particularly in their older years. These conditions can cause them pain and put a damper on their quality of life.
Knowledge is power, so the first step is to educate ourselves on what these pet health problems are. Then, we can concentrate on preventing them.
3 Common Pet Health Issues In Dogs
Some of the most common health problems that our furry family members suffer from, are Luxating Patella, Arthritis, and Ligament Strains and Injuries. Some issues can be more prevalent in certain breeds, age and/or size groups.
For example, consider the problem of obesity. Obesity invites a host of problems – such as digestive issues, and problems with internal organs because of fatty deposits. Not to mention, the extra weight they have to carry around puts more stress on their legs and joints.
Breeds in the Hound group such as Beagles and Basset Hounds have a very well-developed sense of smell, and this keen sense of smell usually lands them in trouble as they sniff out even the slightest bit of food – which they have no issues sniffing out and thoroughly indulging themselves in. Being careful to keep all food and garbage out of reach of their sensitive noses can help prevent this problem.
And watch out for those puppy-dog eyes! As tempting as it may be to give one more treat, keeping our pooches at a healthy weight is far more important.
1. Luxating Patella
This is one of the most common pet health issues that dogs face, and it can affect older and younger dogs alike.
The patella is another name for the kneecap. In the case of a luxating patella, the kneecap slips out of place, and sits at the side of your dog’s leg, as opposed to centred over the front of the leg.
When the kneecap slips out of place, you’ll notice your dog hold its leg up. Some dogs find this condition painful, and you may hear them whimper in pain. Other dogs don’t display any signs of pain, but there is obvious discomfort in their walk, exhibiting itself in such symptoms as limping.
Patellar Luxation primarily affects small dogs such as Yorkies, Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers, and Miniature and Toy Poodles. Larger dogs are not exempt, but it does tend to be less prevalent in them.
Symptoms of Luxating Patella
A few causes of this condition include:
- Improper development of the joints
- Advanced Age
- Being overweight
Prevention of Luxating Patella
Preventing Patellar Luxation isn’t always possible, but the progression can be slowed, and the severity lessened. This will thereby make life more comfortable for your precious pooch.
Some ways you can prevent and/or slow progression are:
|Regular, appropriate exercise||Regularly take your dog on walks, and let them run – according to their comfort level. Swimming is also a good exercise that some dogs enjoy.|
|Feed a well-balanced diet||Maintaining a healthy weight is paramount. Overweight dogs will have more problems with a luxating patella, as well as other orthopedic issues.|
|Avoid jumping from high places||As dogs get older, their leaps from the couch or down the stairs will become more stressful, and create too much impact on their joints. Giving them the option for doggy stairs to get off the couch, for example, can help prevent jumps that could damage their knees.|
|Give supplements to support joint health||Many have found that giving supplements can offer the needed support to help your dog’s joints stay in good health. Consult your veterinarian before giving any over-the-counter supplements.|
Fortunately, Patellar Luxation isn’t life-threatening, and most dogs continue to live full, happy lives even with the condition. However, you do want to do all you can to alleviate the discomfort it does present.
As dogs get older, arthritis is one of the conditions that not only humans face. This is particularly prevalent in larger dogs that have more weight to support – such as Bernese Mountain Dogs and Great Danes.
Approximately 25% of dogs are diagnosed with arthritis in their lifetime. Over the years, there is a slow degeneration of soft tissues that typically cushion the joints. These can result in swelling, stiffness, and pain.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Signs of the onset of arthritis include:
- Your dog gets up and moves slowly, especially at the start of their day
- A reduction in range and/or level of movement
- Swelling and pain in the joints
Prevention of Arthritis
Unfortunately, arthritis cannot be completely prevented, but you can delay the onset, as well as make them comfortable.
Some steps you can take are:
- Gentle exercise: Keeping the joints in motion helps them from becoming too stiff for your dog to move around comfortably.
- Don’t overexert: Don’t allow your dog to overexert themselves. It may sound counteractive to the previous point, but it’s all a matter of balance. You want them to exercise comfortably, but without stressing the joints to the point of irritation.
- Provide an orthopedic bed: Most dogs love a new bed! Orthopedic beds not only support the joints but have a certain firmness that makes it easier for dogs to get up. Many think softer beds would be better for their ageing pet, but this isn’t entirely true. While they’re soft, they also tend to make it more difficult for dogs suffering from joint pain to get up because their weight sinks into the material and they have to work harder to pull themselves up. Firmer beds give support to help them get up easier.
Consult your veterinarian who may be able to suggest supplements that can even further help your dog feel their best.
3. Ligament Strains and Injuries
This is of particular concern when it comes to dogs involved in sports or competitions such as racing, sledding, agility, or hunting. Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, and Greyhounds are just some of the breeds typically involved in sports.
But your Bulldog exuberantly running across the slippery kitchen floor at the sound of his treat bag can easily suffer a ligament injury as well.
Symptoms of Ligament Strains and Injuries
Several factors can contribute to ligament strains and injuries including:
- Uneven terrain in hunting or sledding situations
- Sudden, fast movements – whether these be in agility or a sudden turn in racing dogs
- Musculoskeletal abnormalities
- Previous injury
- Being overweight
Prevention of Ligament Strains and Injuries
Dogs can be unpredictable in their movements sometimes, so it may not always be possible to make sure they don’t move in ways that can injure them. However, we can help prevent these injuries when it comes to training for competitions.
You can help avoid ligament injuries by taking care to:
- Train on even surfaces. Uneven terrain may be unavoidable at times, especially in a hunting situation. However, making sure that your dog trains and hunts on the ground that is as level as possible, can help prevent injuries from occurring.
- Healthy weight. Ligaments that have to support a lot of weight are more susceptible to injury. Feeding a balanced diet and making sure your dog stays at a healthy weight can do a lot to prevent injuries.
- Be careful during play. Dogs with high energy in play like Boxers, Pit Bulls, and Terriers, often play non-stop, even if they may have injured themselves. Give them breaks and watch for any signs of injury. This can help prevent a small, minor injury from becoming something more serious.
3 Common Health Issues in Cats
We would like to think that our feline friends have nine lives – and so would they! However, in reality, they’re still susceptible to some of the same health problems as their canine counterparts.
With all of the running through the house at their ‘witching hour’, jumping from ungodly heights, and their affinity for getting themselves in tight, odd spaces, it’s no wonder our cats are prone to several musculoskeletal issues.
Some common issues that affect cats are Arthritis, Hip Dysplasia, and Ligament injuries.
As our cats age, as much as they don’t want to, they’ll inevitably start to slow down. Cats already love sleeping and lounging around, but you’ll find your ageing cat will start to do this all the more. While advancing age is a factor, arthritis could be too.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Symptoms that may indicate arthritis in your cat are:
- Stiff or sore, swollen joints
- A stiff walk
- Reluctance to jump
- Behavioural changes (often in response to pain)
- Changes in grooming behaviour (due to pain or discomfort when in certain positions)
Prevention of Arthritis
Arthritis may inevitably become part of your cat’s life as they get older. However, you can take steps to delay the onset, as well as provide needed comfort and relief from their symptoms.
|Provide a healthy diet||Obesity can put stress on already ageing joints. A healthy diet will help them maintain a good weight and put less stress on their joints.|
|Discourage high jumps||Cats have a mind of their own. However, making certain areas with potentially dangerous jumps inaccessible can prevent joint injury. Provide a cat tree and entice them with some of their favourite treats or toys so they use that instead of jumping from the top of your armoire.|
|Consider supplements||Supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM will protect your cat’s joints and muscles. Integricare’s TRI-ACTA H.A. is specifically designed for pets who suffer from arthritis. Its high-concentrated active formula improves mobility, minimizes inflammation, and promotes healing.|
2. Hip Dysplasia
When it comes to the issue of hip dysplasia, people typically think of large breed dogs. But our feline family members are also prone to this condition — and it’s really no wonder.
With all of the acrobats and antics that cats accomplish on an almost daily basis, it’s no wonder they wind up with problems like these. Because of their large size, Maine Coons tend to be particularly prone to this condition. In fact, about 20% of purebred cats suffer from Hip Dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is when the ball and socket in the hip joint are misaligned and loose. This prevents the femoral head from moving smoothly and can even lead to early-onset arthritis.
Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia
It may not be as easy to decipher if your cat is suffering from hip dysplasia, as it’s typically easier for them to mask symptoms of illness more than dogs do.
Some signs to look out for:
- Difficulty getting up and moving around
- Avoiding certain kinds of movements (jumping from certain heights, climbing, etc)
- Problems with using the litter box (this is particularly the case if you use special types of litter boxes that require your cat to climb a bit higher)
The most common form of correction is surgery, otherwise, it can cause problems later on in your cat’s life.
Prevention of Hip Dysplasia
Because this is a physical deformity that occurs from birth, it’s not really possible to prevent the condition. However, you can slow down its progression, and help make your cat more comfortable.
Consult your veterinarian should you notice any of the signs of hip dysplasia. By catching it early, your vet can recommend a course of treatment that will make your cat more comfortable, and improve its quality of life.
Should your cat be diagnosed with hip dysplasia, being it can be passed on in genes, it’s especially important that your cat be spayed or neutered.
3. Ligament Injuries
Because of their penchant for jumping from extreme heights, this is another common injury.
Ligaments are connective tissues in the cat’s musculoskeletal system that connect bones. They help keep bones from making exaggerated movements that could cause breakage.
Symptoms of Ligament Injuries
One of the most common ligament injuries is that of the anterior cruciate ligament – more commonly referred to as the ACL. This ligament is located in the knee joint and can be quite painful for your cat.
Treatment for this type of injury typically involves surgery and several weeks of rest for your cat.
Prevention of Ligament Injuries
Fortunately, preventing a torn ACL, as well as other ligament injuries is possible.
You can take such steps as:
- Make sure to keep your cat at a healthy weight. Overweight cats are more prone to ACL tears and other ligament injuries than their healthy-weight counterparts. Providing a balanced diet will help ensure their weight remains in a healthy range.
- Try to keep your cat from unusually high places. This is understandably easier said than done! Discourage them from jumping from these heights by providing climbing frames to entice your cats.
- Try and keep things that your cat can become entangled with from being accessible. Though cats love to play with string – and just about anything else they can get their paws on, these can sometimes cause injury if they become entangled with them. Close closet doors where you may store yarn. Keep them out of garages where you keep twine, for example.
With a few preventative measures, you can help, at least to the best of your ability, to keep your feline companion from suffering a painful ligament injury.
Use Pet Supplements To Prevent & Treat Pet Health Issues
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To that end, providing your pets with supplements that keep them in good health is far more preferable than footing a huge vet bill later.
Even if certain injuries can’t be avoided, a good, complete pet health supplement can speed recovery, and help your pet feel comfortable, adding to their quality of life.
With so many pet supplements on the market with so many price points, how do you know which one is best for your dog or cat? One of the most important things to consider is the ingredients. But reading supplement labels can be challenging. What’s good? What’s bad?
Ingredients to avoid:
- Colouring Agents
And just as there are ingredients you want to avoid, there are also those you don’t want to do without.
|Glucosamine||A component necessary for cartilage development. It can also help in the development of collagen, which is also extremely important for joint health.|
|Chondroitin||It slows down and neutralizes destructive enzymes in the joint. By doing this, it also acts to prevent the breakdown of cartilage.|
|MSM||MSM is a detoxifier. It’s a powerful antioxidant and can provide relief from pain and inflammation.|
|Hyaluronic Acid||This is a glucosamine compound. It occurs naturally in joint fluid and acts as a shock absorber. In older and arthritic pets, the concentration is reduced. Supplementing with HA increases this cushion in the joints and contributes to the comfort of your pet.|
Common Pet Health FAQ’s
How can I tell if my pet is sick?
Even though they’re domesticated, our precious pets are still conditioned to hide their illness, especially cats. Because of this, you have to pay close attention to their behaviour:
- Are they eating normally?
- Is there any diarrhea or vomiting?
- Are they walking normally?
- Any abnormalities warrant an immediate trip to the vet.
Are musculoskeletal problems life-threatening?
In themselves, they typically aren’t. However, they can make it very uncomfortable for your furry friend, and seriously impede quality of life. Taking care to ensure their comfort, therefore is still paramount to them living long, healthy, happy lives.
Aren’t all pet supplements basically the same?
Not at all! With so many pet supplements on the market, there are always those few unscrupulous businesses out there. They will try to make a quick dollar off of your desire to care for your pet, so please be careful to avoid using just any supplement. TRI-ACTA and TRI-ACTA H.A. are formulated with the best ingredients — and nothing else!
Conclusion: Start Preventing Pet Health Issues Today
It’s no secret; we care deeply about the health of our pets. We want them to be healthy, happy, and comfortable. As treasured members of our families, we try to do everything in our power to make sure they live long, happy lives.
One of the best ways we can prevent most injuries is by providing a balanced diet and keeping them at a healthy weight. Making sure they exercise regularly and safely is yet another way we care for our pets’ health.
In addition, providing supplements is beneficial as they help the body to naturally keep itself healthy. Good, well-balanced supplements naturally stimulate the production of key components needed to encourage and maintain good musculoskeletal health.
Whether your dog is competing in fast-paced agility competitions, or your cat is your favourite couch companion, Integricare’s Pet Health Supplements are balanced and specially formulated to provide your pet with the support they need.