Arthritis in Pets: Helping Them Cope

A spotted black and white dogArthritis in pets is surprisingly common, and can be just as much of a problem for our four-legged friends as it is for humans. Arthritis is more frequently seen in senior pets, but it can affect an animal at any age.

There are several types of arthritis in pets, osteoarthritis being the most common form. This occurs when the cartilage surrounding the joints begin to thin and the cells die, causing inflammation. Extra bony growths can also develop, which further increase an animal’s discomfort and mobility problems.

Signs of Arthritis in Pets

Because pets have evolved to hide signs of illness or injury, it can be difficult to tell whether or not your pet is in pain due to arthritis. The signs may also vary depending on the joints affected and the severity of the disease.

Signs of arthritis in pets often include:

  • Limping
  • Stiffness (especially after exercise or when getting up from a nap)
  • Slow to start or refusal to participate in play or activity
  • Slow to rise or lagging behind on walks
  • Reluctance to go up or down stairs, jump in the car or onto the couch, etc.
  • Yelping or other signs of pain when the affected area is touched
  • Dragging one or both back legs

If you suspect that your pet may be suffering from arthritis, please bring him or her in to see us immediately. Your veterinarian will work with you to reduce your pet’s pain, slow the progression of the disease, and help him or her to be more comfortable.

Be a Weight Watcher

Being overweight or obese can put pets at greater risk for developing arthritis, due to the extra weight on the joints. Older and arthritic pets benefit from a high quality, nutritious diet and portion control. Your veterinarian will help you put together a diet and nutrition plan that meets your pet’s needs.

Daily exercise is crucial in the prevention and treatment of arthritis in pets. Regular exercise can help reduce joint pain associated with arthritis and should be part of the daily routine, even for senior pets. Talk with your veterinarian about which forms of exercise are appropriate for your pet.

A Joint Effort

Easy environmental modifications can make a world of difference for an arthritic pet. Consider the following changes you can make to help a pet with mobility issues:

  • Pet ramps or stairs are helpful for getting in and out of cars, on or off the bed or couch, etc., and to reduce the risk of fall or injury.
  • Raised food and water bowls make it easier for an arthritic pet to sit or stand while eating and drinking, rather than having to crouch down.
  • Orthopedic beds can be very comforting to pets experiencing joint pain, as they offer better support and extra cushioning. Adding layers to your pet’s current bed is also effective.
  • Eliminate the need for stairs by keeping all pet-related items on the ground floor.

Caring for an arthritic pet can be challenging, but your team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital is here to support you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions and concerns.