One of the most common conditions that our pets can develop is called osteoarthritis, otherwise known as arthritis. Various factors can contribute to this condition. Commonly, it comes with age, as it does with humans. However, it can arise from old injuries, genetics and obesity as well. Arthritis is a general term for abnormal changes in the joint. Upon examination, your veterinarian will likely manipulate the affected joint listening and feeling for cracking, grating and thickening along with a decreased range of motion. Radiographs are best to diagnose arthritis as x-rays allow us to see any visible changes in the joint. Signs your pet may be experiencing arthritis are as followed:
- Intermittent limping/stiffness (especially after vigorous exercise and prolonged periods of rest)
- Difficulty moving (can be reluctant to do things that were previously easy to accomplish, such as jumping in the car or going downstairs)
- Licking/Chewing at the joint (often indicative of pain which can leave to inflamed skin and/or hair loss over time)
- Fatigue (lack of interest in activity, tires more easily)
- Behavioural Changes (withdraw from touch, aggression, irritability)
- Signs can be more difficult in cats as they are very stoic animals. They often get less active.
As there is no cure for osteoarthritis, the primary goal is to control and increase the movement and function of the joint. Ultimately, we are trying to slow the progression of the disease. There are many supportive treatments such as:
- Physical therapy (exercises, swimming, massage)
- Joint Supplements (oral or injections)
- Therapeutic diets (balanced diets with added nutraceuticals specific to mobility)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (long-term use of NSAIDs requires bloodwork every six months to ensure no negative impact on liver and kidneys)
- Keeping a lean weight (takes added stress off joints)
If you are noticing any signs or have any further questions about treatment and support options, please feel free to contact us anytime!
Written By: North Hill Animal Hospital