No Bones About It: Musculoskeletal Health for Pets is Important

TenWest_iStock_000060704362_LargeYour pet’s body is important nose to tail, but his or her musculoskeletal system is a vital component when it comes to day to day quality of life. As such, it is important to properly care for and monitor your pet’s musculoskeletal health to ensure a long, happy life.

Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital is dedicated to your pet’s health and we know how important the musculoskeletal system can be. Read on to learn how we are helping our pet patients get around more comfortably than even before.

Prevention of Musculoskeletal Problems in Pets

As with most things, the best cure is prevention; and there are certainly things that pet owners can do to help maintain their animal’s overall musculoskeletal health and to stave off problems.

As with so many things in both human and veterinary medicine, nutrition is a cornerstone in providing pets with a good foundation of health. A good nutritional program is essential when talking about musculoskeletal health as well.

Paying attention to your pet’s nutrition can help:

  • Decrease the risk of hip dysplasia and other developmental orthopedic disease in fast growing puppies by avoiding rapid weight gain
  • Lower the risk of problems such as cranial cruciate ligament disease and osteoarthritis by helping your pet maintain a healthy weight

While not all musculoskeletal problems are completely preventable, good nutrition and weight management goes a long way to decreasing their incidence.

There are also nutraceutical products available aimed at helping pets to maintain joint health. These products contain ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which help to support healthy joints. We recommend starting pets on a quality product such as Dasuquin around six years of age to help maintain musculoskeletal health. A good fatty acid supplement can also be good for joint health.

Regular exercise is also vital for maintaining muscle tone and joint health. Please ask if you have questions about an exercise program for your pet, as not all exercise is appropriate for all pets.

Treating Pets with Musculoskeletal Problems

Despite excellent care and preventative efforts, many pets still do develop musculoskeletal problems. Genetics, injury, and overall wear and tear can lead to unavoidable issues that must be addressed to maintain the pet’s mobility and comfort.

If your pet suffers from musculoskeletal problems, there is no need to fear; Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital is ready to help.

Depending on your pet’s individual needs and situation, we will work with you to develop a treatment regimen to aid in healing when possible and management where necessary. A pet’s musculoskeletal health program might consist of a combination of:

  • Surgery – Surgical intervention for conditions such as cruciate disease, luxating patella, or intervertebral disc disease can help to fix the underlying problem and stop progression of problems.
  • Pain management – Our mission is to prevent pet pain wherever possible. Patients with musculoskeletal disease are often on one or more types of pain medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Rimadyl (carprofen) or Metacam (meloxicam) are often utilized. Other pain-relieving modalities such as therapeutic laser and acupuncture may be appropriate for certain patients.  
  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy can be extremely valuable for musculoskeletal patients. It can help to relieve pain, regain or maintain strength, and improve flexibility. Many patients can benefit from some sort of physical therapy in their care regimen.
  • Joint supplements – Adjunctive treatment such as supplementation with things like Dasuquin or Adequan can improve joint health in specific situations.

Most pets will experience some type of musculoskeletal problem during their lifetime. With a little effort, some of these may be avoided. If your pet, however, does suffer from a musculoskeletal condition, we are here to help. Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital knows how important musculoskeletal health is for pets and we have the experience and resources to help your pet be as happy and comfortable as possible.