Arthritis in pets - it's a common problem
Arthritis (otherwise known as degenerative joint disease) is a condition that can sadly affect pets as well as their owners. The joints most susceptible to arthritis are those permitting limb movements called synovial joints. The ends of the bones which meet at these joints are covered by very smooth articular cartilage. The joints are also lubricated with synovial fluid allowing friction free movement.
In pets with arthritis, this protective cartilage is damaged and worn away, resulting in exposure of the underlying bone, causing pain and inflammation.
Secondary new bone is commonly deposited around the joint and may be seen on an x-ray taken by your vet. Affected joints commonly appear stiff, swollen and painful. It’s easier to detect arthritis in dogs as this is more visible with them they will shows signs of slowing up, difficulty in getting up after resting, reluctant to walk or jump into the car, whereas with cats they are masters of disguise. They are in fact very good at hiding signs of arthritis and you may not even realise that they are suffering.
In the majority of cases arthritis occurs following a lifetime of wear and tear on the joints. It may also occur following joint trauma or as a consequence of joint malformation (eg hip dysplasia) resulting in an unstable joint with increased wear and tear on the joint cartilage.
Although arthritis cannot usually be cured, the good news is that with modern medicines and treatments available, vets can help ease the pain for your pet. For pets that are carrying a few extra pounds, losing a bit of weight can also make a huge difference. Many pets can benefit from anti-inflammatory pain relief and food supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate.
If you are at all worried that your pet may be suffering with arthritis, contact your vet for a check-up.
Here’s a link to a great video showing signs of arthritis in cats:
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen. w: www.hillsidevets.co.uk.