Arthritis is a relatively common, but painful, disease that can impact your dog or cat as they age. Identifying whether your pet has arthritis is essential to ensuring that they receive proper medical treatment and stay as comfortable as possible for the remainder of their lives.
Your pet can’t tell you if they’re suffering from arthritis, so here are some common signs and symptoms to watch out for:
Limping is the most common and easily identifiable symptom of arthritis in cats and dogs. If your pet has begun to put more weight on particular limbs, they may be suffering from arthritis. This will be most noticeable when they stand up with the limping improving after a few minutes of walking.
Another tell-tale sign that your pet might have arthritis is that they are increasingly unable to jump or move as much as they once did. If your dog hesitates to jump into or out of your car, or if your cat is unable to jump onto a table, this might be a sign that they have arthritis.
Arthritis commonly impacts the spine, which can result in your pet holding their head lower because it’s painful for them to lift their head — this can cause them to appear hunch-backed. Spinal issues can also impact your pet’s back legs.
Having painful, arthritic joints can cause your pet to tire more easily than a healthy pet. Movement issues, spinal issues and limping can wear out your dog or cat more quickly than when they were younger. This may result in your pet sleeping or resting more often.
Even the most friendly dog or cat can show signs of irritability or aggressiveness as a result of arthritis. Pay close attention to when your pet exhibits signs of irritability, especially if it’s when you are touching them — you may be touching them in an area that is causing them pain.
LICKING, CHEWING & BITING AT THEIR BODIES
If your dog or cat is constantly licking, chewing or biting at specific areas of their bodies, it may be because they are trying to ease the pain of arthritis. Pets will often irritate the skin above a painful joint. It’s important to treat the pain if your pet is exhibiting this sign as obsessive licking, chewing and biting can lead to inflamed skin, hair loss and hot spots.
HOW IS ARTHRITIS IN PETS TREATED?
Unfortunately, arthritis is a degenerative disease that will gradually become worse over time. However, treating your pet’s arthritis will help to slow its progression and alleviate the symptoms so your pet can live a happier, more comfortable life. Treatments include:
- Physical therapy designed to maintain and increase joint strength, muscle tone and range of motion
- Maintaining your pet’s lean, healthy weight to prevent or alleviate more symptoms
- Daily exercise to prevent musculoskeletal weakness
- Anti-inflammatory and pain medications
If you think your pet might have arthritis, it’s important to speak to your vet as soon as possible so they can come up with a treatment plan designed specifically for your pet’s needs.