Arthritis is much more likely to develop as people get older – and it’s no different for cats and dogs.
Age isn’t the only factor in determining the chances of developing arthritis, though, as certain breeds of cats and dogs have a much higher chance of developing it than others.
It’s important to remember that arthritis can affect an animal of any age or breed, so book an appointment to see a vet if you notice any signs.
The tell-tale signs
The classic signs of arthritis in dogs are:
- Attitude and behaviour changes
- Difficulty sitting or standing
- Favouring a limb
- Stiff or sore joints
- Less interest in playing or a general decrease in activity
- Weight gain
- Sleeping more than usual
- A reluctance to run
- A reluctance to jump or follow you up the stairs
As cats often don’t show the typical signs of lameness, how can we recognise the condition?
Affected cats can show a variety of signs, such as:
- Hiding more than normal
- Crying if picked up
- Running away if handled
But by far the most common signs are an unwillingness to jump, and if they do, a reduction in the height they are prepared to leap or hesitating when descending stairs.
If you notice any of these behaviours or symptoms then we would recommend a check-up.
Prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs are the best remedy for arthritis because they treat the inflammation in the joints and thus reduce the suffering your pet feels.
These drugs are often given for a short period of a week or two until the symptoms improve, but may need to be continued if the problems return.
It’s important to ensure your cat or dog isn’t overweight, as this can contribute to arthritis. The strain on the joint from the excess weight inflames it, which can lead to an early onset of arthritis. Exercise isn’t just good for keeping the weight down. It’s also an excellent way to keep muscles strong and to lubricate the joints.
If your pet sustains an injury, such as a broken bone, this will contribute to the arthritis later on in life.
Another option for treatment of arthritis is hydrotherapy or physiotherapy. These are healing forms of exercise that gently manipulates the joints without causing damage, and will help strengthen your pet’s muscles and increase their range of movement. Acupuncture or laser therapy is also useful.
Giving dogs and cats nutritional supplements may also slow down the onset of arthritis considerably. Glucosamine/Chondroitin and essential fatty acid supplements are recommended.
A good age to start introducing these supplements to a pet’s diet is eight years old.
Undenatured collagen type II is another supplement that can be beneficial for dogs who already suffer with arthritis. As with everything health related, regular appointments to see a vet are essential for catching illnesses at the earliest possible time.