Arthritis in pets

Arthritis in pets

Osteoarthritis is where the normal cartilage that cushions the joint degenerates and is worn away, resulting in inflammation, discomfort, ongoing damage, and secondary changes in and around the joint. Arthritis can be primary (without an obvious underlying cause, where the disease may arise at least in part due to mechanical ‘wear and tear’ in the joints) or secondary to a joint injury or abnormality such as hip dysplasia.

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

How can you tell if your pet has arthritis or is developing the condition? Here are the most common signs to watch for:

  • Lameness
  • Swollen joints
  • Popping and cracking when the joint moves
  • Muscle wastage (the muscles by the joint become smaller)
  • Licking of the joint area
  • Slow to arise from a resting position
  • Loss of appetite or unusual weight gain
  • Unwillingness to walk, jump, or climb stairs

Early intervention and management can offer better quality of life and save your pet from a great deal of pain and discomfort.

Diagnosis:Arthritis in pets

Diagnosis of osteoarthritis is based on your pet’s history, physical exam findings and radiographs. X-rays are usually taken whilst under sedation or a light anesthetic to confirm osteoarthritis and rule out other possible causes of joint pain. Occasionally, a joint fluid aspiration is needed or other diagnostics such as a CT image.

Can you prevent arthritis?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to entirely prevent arthritis, but you can develop positive habits to help delay the onset of arthritis. These precautions include:

  • Environmental changes
  • Weight loss
  • Supplements
  • Synovan injection courses
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Other pain medications
  • Acupuncture/massage/physiotherapy

Some immediate actions that you can take if you suspect your pet may be beginning to suffer include:

Environmental Changes

Environmental modifications can aid your pet’s daily routine making their life more comfortable. If your pet cannot leap onto their favourite resting places, such as the couch or bed, you can construct ramps and steps so your pet can still reach these spots. Well-padded bedding and/or heated beds can lessen pain and increase comfort and may quickly become favourite sleeping spots.

Weight Loss

Pets who are overweight place more pressure in their joints. If these joints are inflamed due to osteoarthritis, increased pressure will cause the joint to become more inflamed and therefore, more sore. Reducing portion size will reduce weight, however if this is not successful, we recommend placing your pet on Hills Metabolic food. Encouraging more exercise is also important in any weight loss regime; increasing play time and making your pet work for their food are ideal ways to increase movement. At the Ark we offer a weightless program. Click here to read more.

Arthritis Supplements

Joint supplements including fish oils and glucosamine have been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease cartilage degeneration in humans. They appear to have similar effects on the joints of our pets. These medications take approximately 6 weeks to show signs of improvement and are very safe to continue long term.

We have been getting excellent feedback regarding:

  • Antinol
  • Seaflex
  • 4cyte
  • Glucosamine

A consultation with your Vet is the best way to determine which supplement is most suitable for your pet.


Complimentary therapies such as acupuncture, massage or physiotherapy may help by reducing pain, increasing muscle mass and overall increasing the support around arthritic joints. We recommend a consultation with your Vet to assess which form of complimentary therapy is most suitable for your pet and we can offer some recommendations of where to seek treatment.

Arthritis with Dogs and Cats
Arthritis with Dogs and Cats
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