The senior pet - Nicki's arthritis

Nikki is a 12 year old domestic shorthair who presented at the clinic for what the owner thought was a cat fight injury. Instead, the veterinarian localised the pain to the left fore metacarpals (digits) where the vet could not flex the joints more than a few degrees.

Radiographs were recommended. A blood test was taken for a pre anaesthetic screen of internal organ functions prior to further investigation. The results were normal and was safe for Nikki to have an anaesthetic.

Radiographs were performed the next day. Nikki was found to have advanced arthritis throughout her left paw and wrist and right elbow. Nikki was started on daily anti-inflammatories and weekly pentosan injections for 1 month. Pentosan injections help stimulate joint fluid production.

Two months later, Nikki was a lot happier. She had started grooming herself again and going about her normal daily routines. Nikki is currently on monthly pentosan injection and the anti inflammatory medications have been reduced to once every 3 days.

Unlike humans, rheumatoid and non erosive arthritis is uncommon in small animals. Reactive polyarthritis or degenerative arthritis on the other hand is commonly diagnosed in small animal medicine. Treatment should be sought as it is a source of pain for your pets.

Since Nikki is on long term medications, regular monitoring of her renal parameters is essential. Six monthly blood tests and urine checks are recommended. Also since Nikki is considered a senior citizen, (cats over the age of 7), it is recommended that she is has a thorough physical examination at the same time as her tests. Other common problems can occur in the older pet such as hypertension (high blood pressure), kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, and dental disease.

Regular checks can help identify problems early and treatment is available. Regular urinalysis and blood pressure monitoring are simple and inexpensive tests that gives us valuable information about your cat’s health.

Proper intervention can prolong and maintain a good quality of life for your pet. Pascoe Vale Veterinary Hospital has a seniors program in place for both dogs and cats. Please contact us if you would like more information.