Osteoarthritis is often seen in older pets. Noticing the symptoms and treating early is key in keeping your pet pain-free.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease described as a break down in the body's cushioning and lubrication function of the joints. Without functional cushioning and lubrication the joint components are poorly protected and long-term damage can be sustained.
Signs to look for in dogs• Limping, especially the day after a large bout of exercise. Activity now, pain later is the usual indicator of arthritis.
• Difficulty getting up or stiff after periods of rest
• Change in behaviour
• A dislike of being touched
• Increased or decreased sleep
criticalcaredvm.com (Source for normal elbow joint. Our own x-ray of arthritic joint)
Signs to look for in catsCats are better at hiding their pain and discomfort than dogs. Here are some signs to look for:
• Decreased grooming
• Reluctance to jump
• Inability to jump as high as before
• Urinating or soiling outside the litter box
• Increased or decreased sleep
• Avoiding human interaction
• Dislike of being stroked or brushed
How Arthritis Develops1. ONSET: A 'trigger' such as trauma to the joint, incorrect joint alignment, or a genetic pre-disposition causes a disruption to the normal cellular production of healthy cartilage leading to stiffening of the cartilage.
2. DAMAGE TO JOINT CARTILAGE: The stiff and brittle cartilage loses its compressive ability resulting in surface cracks and an excessive degradation of cartilage. The joint can no longer bear weight as effectively, nor facilitate frictionless movement leading to damage to the underlying bone.
3. INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE: As the cartilage begins to break off the immune system is triggered. The resulting inflammatory response causes pain and swelling in the joints in an attempt to immobilise the animal and protect the joint from further damage.
Unfortunately, it is often not until this third stage that your pet will show clinical signs of osteoarthritis.
Contact us as soon as possible, osteoarthritis can be diagnosed by your veterinarian.
Things to look for when your pet turns 7
Pets are considered seniors once they reach 7 years of age. Their care will change as they age and some common things that may help the transition include:
• Soft, warm bedding in a sheltered area free from draughts
• Aids for dogs such as ramps, non-slip mats or rugs on slippery surfaces to assist with gripping
• Scratching posts placed strategically below those high places your senior cat likes to hide, like cupboards, will provide a gentle landing position.
• Keeping their weight within the ideal weight range
• Maintaining daily activity. At least 30 minutes of activity a day if they can manage it. If they stop on their walk they're telling you something. Activity will help maintain muscles which assist in mobility.
• Give your cat ping pong balls to play with and if they are food-driven, hide tid bits around the house in different positions to get them moving
• Frequent check ups with a veterinarian.
• Knowing the signs of disease or discomfort.
Click the links below to see the signs of disease to be aware of in your senior pet:
Signs of Disease in Senior Dogs.pdf
Signs of Disease in Senior Cats.pdf