Arthritis

By December 30, 2019 Health

Arthritis in Pets: Far More Common Than You Might Think
Dogs and cats are similar to people in many ways. One thing we have in common with our canine and feline companions is that we can develop osteoarthritis (OA).

What is osteoarthritis?
OA is a painful, progressive disease that causes joint inflammation, reduces mobility and flexibility, and can lower quality of life in pets who suffer from it. OA cannot be cured, but it can be slowed, especially if it’s caught early.

How common is arthritis in dogs?
Arthritis affects at least 20% to 25% of dogs. And size doesn’t matter. Although larger dogs may be more prone to getting OA, any size dog can develop the disease.

Cats don’t get arthritis, do they?
Actually, arthritis is fairly common in cats. Studies have found evidence of OA in 40% to >90% of cats of all ages.

Isn’t arthritis just an old-age disease?
Although we may think of OA as a disease that develops as pets age, that’s not always the case. In fact, cats and dogs of almost any age can develop OA.

How do I know if my pet has arthritis?
Keep an eye out for any potential behavior or physical changes associated with OA. If your pet is older, don’t assume that any changes that you notice are just related to age.

Signs of OA-associated pain in pets include changes in mobility, activity, or sociability. These changes may be subtle.

In dogs, signs of OA include:

  • Limping
  • Favoring a leg
  • Lagging behind on walks
  • Reluctance to get up from a seated or lying position
  • Trouble jumping up onto or off the sofa/bed or into or out of the car
  • Reluctance to go up or down stairs
  • Sleeping more
  • Eating less
  • Hiding or avoiding contact with other pets or family members
  • Irritability, especially when handled or approached
  • Chewing, licking, or biting painful areas
  • Lack of interest in playing

In cats, signs of OA include:

  • Making small jumps instead of a big leap to get up onto a table or countertop
  • Reluctance to jump from heights
  • Changes in daily routines
  • Difficulty getting in or out of the litterbox
  • Urinating or defecating outside the litterbox
  • Trouble with or lack of grooming
  • Reluctance to climb stairs
  • Awkward movements (less graceful than normal)
  • Hiding or avoiding contact with other pets or family members
  • Changes in mood or tolerance of being handled (irritability)
  • Sleeping more
  • Eating less
  • Lack of interest in playing

You can use these checklists to help spot OA pain in your dog or cat—and share the results with us:

Younger pets and those in the early stages of OA may not show obvious signs of the disease (such as limping). That’s why it’s important for us to screen your pet for arthritis.

Can I help prevent my pet from getting arthritis?
Although we can’t know for sure if what we do will prevent OA in pets, there are some steps you can take to help reduce the chance that your pet will get the disease:

  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight.
  • Make sure your pet gets enough low-impact exercise, such as walking, jogging, and swimming.
  • Ask us whether your pet could benefit from a special diet or supplement.

How can I help my pet with arthritis?
Although OA can’t be cured, your pet doesn’t have to live with the pain from arthritis. At South Branch, we have many options to help pets with OA.

Schedule your pet’s OA screening today or give us a call to set up an appointment. We’ll work with you to get your pet moving more comfortably again and to make sure your pet stays as pain-free as possible.

References

  • American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Osteoarthritis in dogs. https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/osteoarthritis-in-dogs. Accessed December 19, 2019.
  • Hardie EM, Roe SC, Martin FR. Radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease in geriatric cats: 100 cases (1994-1997). 2002;220(5):628-632.
  • KG MarketSense. 2018 Global Veterinarian and Pet Owner Market Research.
  • Lascelles BD, Henry JB 3rd, Brown J, et al. Cross-sectional study of the prevalence of radiographic degenerative joint disease in domesticated cats. Vet Surg. 2010;39(5):535-544.
  • Mele E. Epidemiology of osteoarthritis. Vet Focus. 2007;17(3):4-10.
  • Slingerland LI, Hazewinkel HA, Meij BP, et al. Cross-sectional study of the prevalence and clinical features of osteoarthritis in 100 cats. Vet J. 2011;187(3):304-309.
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