Pets and Arthritis

Have you noticed that your pet seems reluctant to go up or down the stairs? Seems to sleep more and play less? Seems stiff or limps occasionally? In older pets, these signs are typically said to be due to old age, but they could be signs of arthritis. 

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that can affect any joint. In dogs, many of us have heard of “hip dysplasia” which can lead to arthritis in the hip joints, even in young dogs. Other common areas of arthritis in dogs are the elbows, knees and hocks. Cats can show more subtle signs of arthritis but older cats often have arthritic changes in their spines and hocks.

The good news is that there are many treatments available that can help alleviate the chronic pain of arthritis, increase mobility and improve the quality of life in our pets. Usually a number of treatments are used in combination including weight loss, nutraceuticals (such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, omega three fatty acids), and even physiotherapy. Special prescription diets have been created that have been shown to help in many cases. Newer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been developed that are safer for long-term administration in dogs and cats than those that were available to us in the past.

The kindest thing we can do for our pets is keep them comfortable. Your veterinarian can help to distinguish between arthritis and other diseases that could cause similar signs, and advise you of the best choices for you and your pet.

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