Understanding Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

Arthritis in dogs is the common ailment seen in middle-aged to older pets. Even younger dogs and cats, under some circumstances, can suffer from arthritic changes. Arthritis causes changes in the joints that are painful for the affected pet. This pain in joints is responsible for many of the signs associated with arthritis. Here are seven things to look for in your pets.

1. Limping

If you see your pet limping or favoring one or more of his legs, depending on which legs and which joints it could be arthritis.  Sometimes, the limp may seem worse when your pet first gets up and become less noticeable as your pet moves around and [the joints warm up.

2. Difficulty in Mobility

If your pet becomes reluctant to do things that were previously easy for him to accomplish this could be a sign of Arthritis. For example, your dog may find it difficult to get up and down the stairs or be getting in and out of the car that were previously easy and manageable. On the other hand, cats with Arthritis may stop jumping onto couches, counter tops, perches or high areas because of the pain and discomfort.

3. Spinal Problems

Arthritic changes don’t just attack legs and joints but also various parts of the spine. These changes may result neck stiffness and soreness, an abnormal posture or “hunch” in the back, or lameness of one or both hind legs.

Joint Cartilage Erosion in Dogs

4. Tiredness

Your pet may tire easily. In dogs, this may mean that walks become more difficult and more painful for your pet. Your pet may spend an inordinate amount of time sleeping or resting.

5. Irritability

Arthritic animals do become more irritable. They could snap or bite when approached or touched, particularly if they are petted or handled in a way that increases pressure on joints, therefore, increasing pain.

senior dog suffering

6. Muscle Atrophy

Arthritis in dogs can develop muscle atrophy,  a condition that results from muscle tissue dying off due to inactivity or decreased use of the muscles. A dog or cat with atrophied muscles in their legs will have a leg which seems thinner than a normal leg.

7. Licking, Chewing and Biting

Pets affected with arthritis may also begin to lick, chew and/or bite at body areas that are causing them pain. This may even reach the point of causing inflammation in the skin and hair loss over areas that are affected.

Arthritis Treatment for Dogs and Cats

Though there is not a cure for arthritis, there are some supplements like Chondropaw and procedures that can help alleviate the pain in your pet. Consulting a veterinarian for advice is one option if you believe your dog or cat is suffering from arthritis but it can be expensive.

Arthritis in cats can be particularly challenging to spot. Many arthritic cats just become less active. Often, this change in behavior corresponds to the cat getting older and most cat owners may simply assume that the change is normal when, in fact, your cat may actually be decreasing his activity level because he is in pain because of arthritis.  Dogs display more overt sign of Arthritis so pet owners do have some supplement solutions that will not require a visit to the veterinarian.