This year a few members of our Ark Vetcare team from our Dun Laoghaire, Foxrock and Kilmacud braches attended a course with Hills Pet Nutrition. This course was based on the Nursing Support for arthritic patients. The course was practical as it was a full day of learning how we can help prevent Arthritis in our patients and how we can help our patients who may already have arthritis.
What is Arthritis?
Cartilage protects bones where they meet, arthritis occurs when the cartilage is worn away and to some degree, replaced. When there is loss of cartilage this then causes the exposure of nerve endings and can be very painful. Therefore, arthritis happens as a result of the joints failing to repair themselves.
This course helped our us learn about this condition in depth and it gave us an insight on how we could help our patients. The aspects that were covered throughout the day were:
Pain perception and Multimodal Analgesia
We now know in depth the ways in relieving pain for our patients with osteoarthritis and know more about the types of drugs that are prescribed, more about pain modulation and the types pain relieving techniques that can be used to help these patients.
Environmental Management of Osteoarthritis
This part of the course listed ways in which your pet can be helped in their everyday lives at home and out and about if they have osteoarthritis. This included points such as keeping your pets nails in check, ensure you have non-slip flooring at home, making your stairs anti-slip or installing stair gates to prevent climbing the stairs, assisted mobility and how it is done, making getting into the car or getting up on furniture easier by adding a step or ramp up to prevent jumping. There were other aspects to ensure your animal is comfortable by ensuring they have nice soft bedding, that they are being groomed and specials ways to exercise such as hydrotherapy as it is less strenuous on your pet’s joints.
Physical Rehabilitation Techniques
This part of the course included ways in which we can help our patients after orthopaedic surgeries and how to make them feel most comfortable and provide them with the best care for their recovery. This was a practical lesson and we were shown how to massage the patients joints and muscles, how to use hot and cold packs to help with pain and we were taught how to do therapeutic exercises on our patients. This class was practical as we had live patients to practice on as they were all used to these exercises and massages.
Obesity management of Arthritic Pets
Obesity has many health risks for our pets, and it was said that almost half of dogs and cats in Europe are overweight or obese. Our team now know how we can keep our patients weight under control by ensuring our patients are getting their correct daily requirement of food for their body type and breed by calculating the amount of food they should be consuming daily of the different foods that we sell in our clinic, we can also help by putting patients on the right track to losing weight by starting them on a Metabolic diet with the range of food we have in our clinics. We do frequent weigh-ins of each of our patients that come into our clinic to ensure they don’t run the risk of becoming overweight or by helping to bring weight down. If our pets are obese it can put a lot of pressure on their joint’s, so we are doing our best to help ensure our patients are at their best and to help prevent problems further on in their lives.
Predictive Biology and Dietary Management of Osteoarthritis
This was final topic of the day and this went through how a specific diet can help with the management of Osteoarthritis. This section was about genomics which is “The branch of Molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of Genomes.” Therefore, to formulate a food for a special diet the genes must be identified to a specific problem or disease. The study is done on the effects of different nutrients on those genes and how their expression can be influenced.
The diets are then formulated with the potential to modify that gene expression in unhealthy animals and this should lead to showing gene expression that more closely reflects a healthy state.
This is just a brief outline of what was gone through on the day of this course, but our team members thoroughly enjoyed the day and are now a lot more aware about how to help and support Arthritic patients.