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Arthritis in Dogs and Cats: Your Guide to Joint Pain in Pets

arthritis in dogs and cats

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Our pets’ joints take a beating. With all the running, jumping and pouncing they do, it’s no wonder sometimes our furry friends start to experience pain in their limbs. What are the causes of joint pain? What are some common treatments? Here’s your guide to arthritis in dogs and cats!

Do Pets Get Arthritis?

Yes, many pets suffer from arthritis. Many dogs develop joint pain from issues like ACL tears, osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia. These problems are particularly common in large dogs. Although significantly less common, occasionally some cats also develop osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease. This causes inflammation and pain in your cat’s joints — the elbow joint in particular.

What Causes Arthritis in Dogs and Cats?

There are two types of joint pain in dogs: developmental and degenerative. Developmental joint pain, such as hip dysplasia, occurs when the joint doesn’t develop correctly. Degenerative joint problems happen when there is a breakdown in the joint over time.

Arthritis in cats is usually degenerative. As your cat ages, the cartilage becomes less flexible and breaks down. This can be caused by injury, infection or even weight gain.

What Are Cat and Dog Arthritis Symptoms?

Cat and dog arthritis symptoms usually progress gradually. Instead of beginning as obvious pain, you’ll see much more subtle signs of arthritis. These symptoms include moving slower, difficulty moving or hesitating to perform their normal physical activities. As the arthritis in dogs and cats progresses, you’ll see more obvious signs of pain and lameness such as holding a limb up or holding a leg strangely. You might also notice fatigue, stiffness and swelling of the joints.

What Are Typical Cat and Dog Arthritis Treatments?

There are many, many possible cat and dog arthritis treatments. What your vet will recommend depends on your animal and the severity of their joint issues. Here are some potential treatments:

Should My Pet With Arthritis Stop Exercising?

How much movement your pet should make is entirely up to your veterinarian. This will likely depend on the severity of your pets joint issues. In many cases, gentle movement is actually beneficial. You may need to avoid more intense exercise like jumping over objects and off and on furniture. To assist your pet, you may want to help them groom themselves. It will also be useful to make sure they have very easy access to their litter box and food and water bowls.

How Can I Prevent Joint Issues?

One of the best ways to prevent joint issues is to ask about them when you’re adopting an animal. Ask about the pet’s lineage and if there’s a history of arthritis and other joint issues in the family. The dogs most likely to not experience joint issues are mixed-breed pups. Genetic diversity really limits a dog’s changes of developing hip dysplasia or other problems. Lastly, keep your pet at a healthy weight. Giving your animal ample exercise and a balanced diet is a great way not to strain their joints.