Arthritis is very common in older pets and so it’s especially important to understand the signs, how it can be treated and even prevented.
Arthritis causes in your pet
Arthritis is generally caused by wear and tear on the joints and for this reason we tend to see it affecting pets relatively late in their life.
Obesity and being overweight are likely the most common cause of osteoarthritis as an abnormal load is placed through the joint. This leads to increased wear and tear over the years. As a result, keeping our pets on the slim side throughout their lives is the single greatest thing we can do to help prevent osteoarthritis
We should be able to easily feel our pets ribs without pressing too firmly and this is the easiest way to tell if your pet is overweight.
The other most common causes and risk factors for osteoarthritis are previous injuries to a joint as well as pre-existing joint conditions such as hip dysplasia. Furthermore, joints that have been operated on have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis later down the line.
Arthritis Symptoms in your pet
The most obvious and common symptom of arthritis is a limp. It is often easiest to spot this when your pet is walking rather than running. The lameness can come on so gradually that some people think their pet isn’t in pain and it is just them slowing down with age. However, it’s very important to go to the vets if your dog develops a limp as it usually means your pet is in pain.
Stiffness is very common too, particularly after our pets have been lying down for a while which is associated with the reduced range of movement that arthritic joints have.
In cats, one of the common early symptoms is a reduced ability to jump on to high up surfaces so if you notice your cat is doing this less it would be a good idea to go to the vets.
Swelling of the joints or heat in the joints is a symptom of more severe arthritis.
Sometimes arthritis can occur in the back which can change the posture of our pets to a hunched or rigid one.
Other symptoms may include: restlessness, panting, changes to behaviour and loss of appetite. These are all a result of pain.
Our next blog post will look at how we can manage / treat and prevent arthritis.