Cowboy and Canines “Osteoarthritis in Cats”

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on April 29, 2015 with No Comments

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Most people are familiar with someone who has had a prosthetic hip or knee inserted to replace the severely damaged cartilage.  This eventually leads to bone articulating on bone causing the classic signs of pain and secondary side effects such as bone spurs and other transformative lesions observed with this insidious disease.  Our subject matter today is a confluence of osteoarthritis in cats and my cat, Cowboy.

It was thought within the profession that there was a paucity of cases of osteoarthritis in cats as compared to dogs.  It is true that obvious cases in dogs such as hip dysplasia were infinitely more likely to be observed.  Maybe this is simply due to the fact that our wily cat friends are more sedentary and; therefore, less likely to observe very subtle signs of arthritis until it becomes quite advanced.

It is axiomatic that veterinarians and owners need to be a bit more aware of what to look for in cats.  Seek and ye shall find.

The most commonly affected areas in cats are the hips and the lower back or lumbar region.  It is not uncommon to find a cat suffering from spondylosis or bony fusion in the lower back, also, very common in medium to large older dogs.  The other area observed with osteoarthritis in dogs and cats is the hip. Cats accommodate to a greater fashion and are radiographed less commonly.

Before the advent of corticosteroids there was precious little we could.  The same could be said for people and, of course, we now are aware that long term use of steroids can cause further deleterious effects on cartilage.  The next breakthrough was the discovery of NSAIDS or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Celebrex in people and Previcox for dogs.  But, sadly, NSAIDS could be dangerous to cats.

In recent years cold laser therapy has been used with very encouraging results for hip and back problems in animals and people and even our feline friends.  Ancillary therapies such as acupuncture and homeopathic remedies such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have been used and on occasion with great success.

Recently, a new drug especially formulated for cats has been on the market.  Specifically, Onsior, is being used pre and post surgically in cats and for osteoarthritis.  It is being used with great success thus far.

Recently, we returned from our yearly sojourn to Florida and found Cowboy limping severely on his right front leg.  Considering front leg lameness problems are very unusual in cats I was very concerned.  I took him to Arc of the Dunes and my friend and colleague, Dr. James Read and I took x-rays of both his legs and shoulders. What we found was staggering.  Both “elbows” were severely damaged by osteoarthritis.  There were many bone spurs (extra growths of bone around the joint) and many lytic areas of all three major bones of the joint.  This means the bones were less dense and; therefore, less able to bear weight.  The fact that both elbows were affected almost assuredly meant cancer was not the issue and a great relief to me.

I started a course of the new Onsior with very good results and Dasuquin—the next generation of Cosequin (glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.) Nutramax makes Cosamin for people and Cosequin for animals.  I personally have seen dramatic results in animals.  I have even seen some “rebuilding” of the joint.

About 60 percent of a cat’s weight is borne by the front legs and the fact that I let Cowboy get to 25 pounds was a prescription for disaster and was iatrogenic—doctor caused.

In conclusion, if your dog or cat is limping, has difficulty getting up or simply not acting like their old self, consult your veterinarian.  And, possibly have radiographs taken and see which of these new modalities may work the best for your pet. Rewards for high-performing or improving schools reward programs may require schools to apply or compete for extra funding or recognition

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