23 June 2010

Pioneering nutrition eases pet pain

A balanced diet, rich in omega 3 fatty acid, can relieve painful joints in pets suffering from arthritis.


Arthritis in pets can be treated with nutrition.

The science that explores how nutrients can be used to treat diseases, called nutrigenomis, have found that pet-diets that contain high levels of the omega 3 fatty acid, EPA, can reduce inflammation and joint damage brought on by arthritis.

Pioneering nutrigenomics has been applied to develop a range of pet food that can help ease the pain and slow down the progression of this devastating joint disease, Hill's Pet Nutrition said in a prepared statement. "The nutrients in the food literally block the genes that produce cartilage destroying enzymes, and thus protect the joints from further damage," said Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor for Hill's Pet Nutrition.

Arthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in adult dogs and as many as 30% of all cats over the age of eight may have a reduced quality of life due to the disease and a study found that 65% of cats aged 12 years and older were affected.

Symptoms of arthritis include stiffness and joint pain, which often manifests as difficulty rising from lying down. Dogs with arthritis may limp or be reluctant to walk or play. Cats often mask pain but those affected are usually not as active, groom less, may urinate inside (because they can't get out as easily), and may be less willing (or able) to jump up and down from heights.

Veterinary nurse Zoë Gunstone from Cyrildene, Johannesburg, said that her nine year old cat Rusty was diagnosed with arthritis in April this year. "Rusty loves his food but he couldn't manage to jump up to the counter where we feed him. He didn't like us touching his hindquarters and he stopped playing with our other cats." Zoë tried Rusty on an EPA rich diet and said, "I was so surprised when after just two weeks he was running around. He is social and playful again and can easily jump up on the counter. And I've been able to stop giving him anti-inflammatory pain relief every day."

Bella, a five year old Bulldog/German Shepherd cross from Somerset West, has suffered from arthritis most of her life, having been diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia at six months old. Her vet, Dr Claudia Hirmer, said that when Bella was fed the same diet there was an 82% improvement within two months. "Based on a scoring system rating things like ease of rising, perceived pain, lameness, willingness to climb stairs and such, her mobility improvement has been dramatic. She is a lot less irritable and is definitely more comfortable. After the first month her anti-inflammatory and other supplementation could be noticeably reduced and after two months we were able to stop them altogether." - (Health24, October 2007) 

SOURCE: Hardie EM, Roe SC, Martin FR (2002) Radiographic evidence of degenerative joint

- (Last updated: June 2010)


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