The most common type of arthritis that affects dogs and cats is osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease. Arthritis in your canine or feline friend can also be caused by an infection (septic or bacterial arthritis) or by a malfunction of the immune system (rheumatoid arthritis). This article discusses osteoarthritis because it’s much more likely to affect your pet.
What is Osteoarthritis in Dogs and Cats?
Osteoarthritis happens when bones are adversely affected because cartilage is damaged or worn away. When the cartilage can no longer provide adequate cushioning, the affected joint is unable to move smoothly, and bones rub against each other. This friction causes loss of mobility and pain. If the joint capsule becomes inflamed, bony growths known as bone spurs can develop. Any joint in your pet’s body can be subject to osteoarthritis.
Which Dogs and Cats are Most at Risk for Developing Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis is mostly a condition of aging. Most dogs and cats in their senior years have arthritis. However, some dogs are more prone to arthritis than others: large, heavy dogs; working dogs; athletic dogs; obese dogs; dogs with diabetes or Cushing’s Disease. Injury and trauma, hip or elbow dysplasia also predispose dogs and cats to arthritis.
One out of every five dogs over the age of seven has arthritis.
Over 90% of cats over twelve years of age have arthritis.
What are the Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs?
If you have an arthritic dog, he’ll have stiff and swollen joints and appear to be lame. He’ll be reluctant to run after his ball or wrestle with you. He may not be able to leap on or off the bed or climb into a car without assistance. Some dogs lick or bite their joints, trying to relieve the achiness. Other pets may become irritable around humans – your ten-year-old poodle who has loved kids all his life now begins to snap at your grandchildren.
What are the Symptoms of Arthritis in Cats?
The natural agility of cats allows them to compensate somewhat for arthritis pain, and it may not be evident that your cat is limping. However, you may observe him taking several small jumps rather than a single leap to get on top of something. Arthritic cats may be grumpy and no longer meticulously groom themselves. They may become constipated because their stiffened joints make it difficult for them to squat in the litter box.
What is the Treatment for Arthritis in Dogs and Cats?
There is no cure for arthritis, but it can be managed. The main treatment options are:
Pain medications (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – NSAIDs – not suitable for cats.)
Homeopathic remedies such as T-Relief Tablets.
Joint supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, fatty acids). Research shows that pets develop arthritis much more slowly if they receive joint-beneficial supplements throughout their lives.
Weight loss if the pet is overweight.
Moderate exercise as much as is possible.
Talk to Your Vet
If your dog or cat has arthritis, work with your vet to come up with the best course of treatment. However, if your pet experiences any trauma to the joints that require emergency treatment and you reside in the Columbia, South Carolina area, bring him to CVETS for state-of-the-art emergency care.