What Is Arthritis?

Discover the signs of pet arthritis and the many natural treatments available.

By Joan Hustace Walker | Posted: Tue Oct 23 00:00:00 PDT 2001

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Rheumatoid arthritis is not a wear-and-tear disease but rather a systemic, autoimmune disease that affects the animal's entire body. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the body's own immune system to attack healthy joint tissue, causing inflammation and joint damage. Fortunately, this type of arthritis is not common in dogs or cats.

There are no cures for either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, but there are many holistic treatments that can slow the progression of the disease and provide pain relief to a suffering pet.


Does Your Pet Have Arthritis?
Though a veterinarian can sometimes diagnose arthritis clinically with a hands-on examination, the only absolute way to diagnose arthritis is with an X-ray of the joint. The signs of arthritic pain can be quite subtle among more stoic pets, so the pet owner plays a critical part in noticing that his or her pet is suffering, enabling the veterinarian to make a diagnosis and begin treatment. Since the disease is degenerative, it is important that an accurate diagnosis is made as early as possible and that immediate treatment is begun.

Be aware that some dogs and cats can show all the signs of arthritis (even the severe symptoms) and yet suffer from muscular problems that have nothing to do with true arthritis. In these cases, the X-rays will not show signs of arthritis, however, if your pet suffers these symptoms and does not have arthritis, he can be helped by some of the same holistic treatments that are used to treat pet arthritis.

Holistic Therapy: Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been used for more than three thousand years and remains the primary medical modality for more than 25 percent of the world's human population today, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. It is based on the concept that every animal has energy, qi (pronounced "chee"), that flows through the body along channels called meridians. If the flow of energy is not smooth and continuous, diseases can occur. The goal of acupuncture is to unblock the meridians and regain the continuous flow of body energy. This is accomplished by inserting thin needles into meridian points located beneath the skin. With the flow of qi regained, the health of the patient is also recovered.

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