Managing osteoarthritis and pain in pets 

Osteoarthritis can really impact a pet’s quality of life. Even though it can’t be cured, early and effective pain management can make a big difference. 

If your dog or cat is getting older and experiencing stiffness or is finding it harder to move around then it’s possible that they’re suffering from osteoarthritis. Also known as arthritis or degenerative joint disease, in most cases this condition is ageing-related. This is because over time, cell repair slows, joints become inflamed and cartilage wears down, exposing nerve endings in joints that causes pain. If a pet has any pre-existing conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia, or a pre-existing injury or has had orthopedic surgery, such as cruciate ligament repair, sadly it’s likely they’ll experience discomfort from osteoarthritis even sooner.

Cats and dogs can both suffer from arthritis

Osteoarthritis can be experienced by both cats and dogs, but it’s more obvious in our canine friends. In fact, one in five ‘adult’ dogs (that’s pets over 12 months of age) will experience some degree of arthritis, and that figure increases with age. 

Cats Protection in the UK estimates that more than 80 per cent of cats aged over 10 years old will have some degree of arthritis detectable on x-rays. But it tends to go unnoticed, as cats are lighter and more agile than dogs.

Signs of osteoarthritis in pets 

Of course, you’ll need to see your pet’s veterinarian for a proper diagnosis, but here are some signs of arthritis to look out for in your furry friend: 

  • Reduced activity 
  • Reluctance to walk or play 
  • Stiffness in the legs, especially in the mornings or after a sleep 
  • Difficulty getting up 
  • Limping or lameness 
  • Difficulty jumping up or down or climbing stairs 
  • Falling behind and even lying down on walks (dogs) 
  • Difficulty grooming, especially around the middle of the back and tail (cats) 
  • Swollen, enlarged or painful joints 
  • Licking or chewing at their joints 
  • Yelping in pain when touched 
  • Changing personality with grumpiness or possible aggression 
  • Worsening of signs in damp or cold weather 

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