Arthritis is defined as inflammation of a joint, the point where two bones meet, and is a painful degenerative disease that reduces your pet’s mobility. Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease) is the most common form of arthritis experienced in animals. Any joint can be affected but it is most common in the hips, elbows, shoulders, knees and back. Arthritis can occur at any age, for a number of reasons, including:
- Trauma e.g. ruptured cruciate ligament
- Developmental problems e.g. Hip dysplasia
- Overweight pets (Putting too much pressure on the joints)
- Environmental elements (e.g. constantly going up and down steep stairs)
- Old age
Signs to look out for:
Stiffness or lameness (particularly after lying for long periods of time or after exercise).
Weight changes – Both weight gain, through not able to do enough exercise or loss through loss of appetite due to pain.
Changes in behaviour - can be quieter than usual, or showing signs of aggression, which can be due to pain.
Reduced ability to jump up, or down e.g. to and from sofa.
Changes in toilet behaviour due to reduced ability to make it outdoors or struggling to squat/lift a leg whilst urinating.
Changes in coat condition due to reduced grooming activities or over-grooming sore joints.
Frequent licking at joints. This may indicate pain in the joint and can lead to discolouration of fur over certain areas.
Decreased range of motion.
Shifting weight from one limb to another.
Sleeping more or spending a lot of time lying around in the same spot.
**Please note, lameness/stiffness in an older pet are not ‘normal’ signs of ageing.**
So what’s next?
Radiography - X-rays to diagnose the specific problem areas. This may require general anaesthetic.
Pain scores - This is where we gauge the level of discomfort your pet is in. This can be done during consultation and is monitored throughout the treatment.
This can be done in a number of ways, including:
- Medication - as prescribed by your veterinary surgeon.
- Nutraceuticals - supplements that can aid joint flexibility and may help reduce inflammation.
- Exercise management
- Environmental management
Careful management of osteoarthritis can help reduce clinical signs and help keep your pet more comfortable. Here at Inglis Vets we run nurse led Osteoarthritis clinics at our Healthy Pets Centre in Dunfermline. These clinics are individual to each patient, and a bespoke management plan is constructed through results obtained from our osteoarthritis questionnaire: (link to cat and dog questionnaires).
For more information please give us a call on 01383 734380, or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, where we would be happy to answer any questions or queries you may have.