What’s New for Arthritis for Our Pets!

Cats are not small dogs! This is a statement that I have used many times over the years. They are unique in their health issues and aging concerns. This is very prevalent in therapies for osteoarthritis (OA). We have been using multiple different therapies for dogs for arthritis for years. Cats cannot be given many of those medications.  

What is OA? This impacts the joints of our dogs and cats often anytime after 3- 5 years of age. The cartilage is worn down and bone rubs against bone. This cartilage is a protective layer within the joints. As this layer is broken down the body attempts to stabilize the joint and lays down more bone. As you can imagine this new layer of bone causes pain with movement. This pain turns into chronic pain and our pets start laying around more. Sometimes we mistake this as a normal aging change. With less activity we see additional weight gain. With additional weight we have more painful joints. This creates a vicious cycle that limits a pet’s mobility and happiness. In September 2019 I wrote a blog about obesity and how that impacts OA: Obesity and Arthritis on the Rise — Is there a Connection?

Cats are great at hiding their pain. They will sleep more. Choose not to jump up and down from objects. Stop doing stairs or limiting those activities. Sometimes not using the litter box can be related to joint pain. The location of the box, the height of the box, a hood on the box, etc. are all things that may be impacting OA and cause a cat not to use their box. People are always aware of pain when they see a limp but with these other subtle changes the OA pain can be missed.

Up until recently for cats with OA we could offer diets with glucosamine. Supplements with glucosamine for daily administration. Adequan injections administered weekly to monthly as needed for joint pain. Corticosteroids which have multiple negative side effects over time for OA. None of these treatments were as beneficial or convenient as we would have liked for our feline patients. Let me tell you what has changed.

SOLENSIA is a new monoclonal antibody injectable formula created especially for our feline patients. It has been out since the first of the year. This is the first approved long term injectable treatment for osteoarthritis in cats. It is a natural form of therapy. In cats that have received the injections their owners are returning for additional injections each month. The owners have noticed that their cats are doing activities that they were not doing before the injections. It can take up to 1 week for the body to respond to the injection. The best response is often seen after 3 monthly injections have been given. We hope that this will improve the lives of our feline patients and their owners. No one wants to give a cat a pill and cats are often very suspicious of new foods offered with medications in them. The injection is seamless and as of now we have had no side effects reported. The most common side effects reported during the clinical trial were sensitivity at the injection site and vomiting. We have seen none of this since we started offering these monthly injections.

If you think your cat is showing signs of pain associated with arthritis, we highly recommend an exam with your veterinarian.  Discuss with them the signs and symptoms and determine if SOLENSIA is right for your favorite feline friend.  Some diagnostics may be recommended prior to starting the injections. The goal of ours is to help our feline friends have pain free senior years. One client indicated that the shots allowed her cat to jump up onto the counter once again. That was one behavior she could have done without. 😊

A little side note to our discussion today on cat OA. The same company that brought us SOLENSIA is set to release a similar product for dogs called LIBRELA. We hope to have it available sometime later this fall. We will certainly notify clients when available. With each passing year we find more effective and safer products to help our furry friends live long healthy lives. Our goal is to extend their lives and allow them to bring more joy into yours.

Stay cool and please drive safely as our kids head back to school.