Many of our dear pets struggle with arthritis over their lifetime. A slow and progressive condition of the joints, sadly it is very easily overlooked as it tends to come on gradually.

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • Struggling to rise – especially after sleeping
  • Difficulty getting up or down steps, onto or off of furniture, in and out of cars
  • Reluctance to jump - you might see this as your pet taking her time to line up and prepare to jump, or perhaps jumping to a lower object first (such as onto a bedside table and then onto the bed)
  • Reluctance to be touched - perhaps he moves away or even snaps, growls or hisses when certain sore areas are patted
  • Increased sleeping
  • Shivering even in warm environments – shivering is a common sign of pain

It is very easy to overlook arthritis affecting your pet as the signs come on gradually and the pain is not always obvious – rarely do we see pets yelping and crying from the pain. Confusingly for many owners signs of arthritis seem to wax and wane. First thing in the morning your pet may be moving slowly and stiffly, reluctant to get up. But then you pick up the food bowl and you suddenly have a spry youngster on your hands again! Often these improvements are due to excitement – going for a walk, visitors at the house, food.

Subtle signs of arthritis in cats. Image curtosy of Boehringer Ingelheim

Subtle signs of arthritis in dogs. Image curtosy of Boehringer Ingelheim

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a disease of the joints that causes pain and limits movement and use of the affected limb(s). Arthritis may be suspected from the history, physical examination findings, known injuries or from radiographic (xray) findings.

How Can We Help Our Pets Be Comfortable?

Although arthritis cannot be cured, changes at home and veterinary assistance can make a huge difference to your beloved dog or cat’s quality of life and comfort levels. While it is a progressive condition, there are many tools available to help slow down its progression and keep your pet happy:

Around the Home:

  • Minimising steps - putting in a ramp
  • Getting traction on slippery floors: yoga mats, gym mats and carpets can all add much needed traction to floorboards, tiles, linoleum or other slippery surfaces
  • Weight control: being overweight or obese puts more strain on the joints than is needed. Losing weight is an important part of minimising arthritis. This can be a difficult and challenging task so recruit help from your veterinary team for the most success.
  • Exercise: gentle, regular exercise is great for arthritic joints. Rough, high impact exercise should be avoided.

    With Your Vet:

  • Joint supplements: these provide important building blocks for your pet’s cartilage
  • Cartrophen injections: Cartrophen helps slow down the cartilage degeneration of arthritis, and therefore the overall disease process, and helps reduce joint inflammation.
  • Pain relief: as arthritis advances, many pets benefit from pain relief medications, which come in the form of liquid or tablet, long acting or short acting preparations. The most appropriate medication for your pet is selected by your vet after taking into consideration several factors.
  • Acupuncture: veterinary acupuncture provides pain relief and reduces inflammation, helping improve your pet’s overall quality of life and reduces his need for regular pain relief medication
  • Physical rehabilitation plan: Rehabilitation plans help look after your pet’s muscular strength and joint mobility.

With an individually tailored Arthritis Management Plan, the impact of arthritis on your pet’s quality of life can be minimised, helping them lead a happier, bouncier life!