Vet to converse about creaky canines

Prescriptions, medical treatment and in-home techniques can all help alleviate arthritis in dogs.

A free lecture next week by Dr. Michael Morrow of Central Point's Crater Animal Clinic will explore ways to keep older dogs comfortable and mobile. It's the first of several local seminars per year that the veterinarian plans on various aspects of pets' health.

"Animals are living longer, and we're starting to see chronic conditions like arthritis more and more," Morrow says. "More conditions are treatable, sometimes even curable."

Veterinarians now use high-tech equipment like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomographic (CT) scans to diagnose arthritis and other diseases in pets, particularly dogs, Morrow says. Acupuncture and even stem-cell therapy are means of treatment, along with a realm of prescription drugs, he says.

"A few decades ago that wouldn't have been an option," Morrow says. "We didn't have the technology."

Yet pet owners shouldn't overlook the relatively simple solution of improving an animal's diet, Morrow says.

"There's a lot of things they can do at home, as well."

Just like their human counterparts, older dogs benefit from regular, low-impact exercise such as walking, he says, adding that the major centers of canine arthritic pain are the shoulders, elbows, knees and hips.

Many dogs develop arthritis once they reach age 8, the start of the species' senior years, Morrow says. About half of the approximately 15,000 dogs the clinic treats are considered "seniors," he says. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to conditions that lead to arthritis, Morrow says. Yet arthritis is a condition veterinarians diagnose in virtually every breed, he says.

Particularly interested in pain management, Morrow, 28, is a graduate of Colorado State University's veterinary program. He has been an associate veterinarian at Crater Animal Clinic for about a year.

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