Like humans, many pets suffer arthritis as they age and this is particularly noticeable as the colder weather draws in. It is one of the most common ailments seen in older pets, causing changes in affected joints that can be extremely painful for a cat or dog. But it can also be particularly hard to spot in cats. Many arthritic cats simply become less active, a change in behaviour his or her owner may interpret as ‘normal’ for an older cat whereas the cat may be decreasing his activity level because he is in pain.
Seven common signs of arthritis
You pet may limp or favour one or more of his legs. In some cases, the limp may seem worse when he or she gets up in the morning but becomes less noticeable as your pet moves around and ‘warms up’.
* Difficulty moving
Arthritic cats may suddenly stop jumping onto high areas they used to love and dogs might not want to go for a run, walk up or down stairs or jump into the car. This is your pet’s way of saying “I’m in pain”.
* Spinal issues
Arthritis doesn’t only attack a pet’s legs. It can also occur in the spine so look for abnormal posture, lameness in a hind leg or a neck that is sore to the touch.
Your pet may tire more easily. Arthritic pets often spend more time sleeping or resting.
If a usually gentle-natured dog or cat suddenly starts snapping or biting when approached or handled it may indicate sore joints.
* Muscle atrophy
Arthritic pets often develop muscle atrophy or dying off of the muscle tissue due to inactivity and decreased use of the muscles. A pet with atrophied muscles will have a leg that looks thinner than the others
* Licking, chewing and biting
Sometimes a pet will suddenly lick, chew or bite at a leg or area of the spine for no apparent reason. This may be an attempt to ease arthritic pain.
How to treat arthritis
Though it cannot be cured, there are various remedies and procedures that can help ease the pain for your pet:
- Supplementation: There are several joint supplements promoting healthy cartilage and joint health like VetsBrands Arthrofocus for younger dogs containing nutraceuticals and Omega 3 fatty acids to maximise cartilage regeneration and protection; ArthriJoint with pain killing and anti-inflammatory properties for end stage joint disease in older dogs; GCS Cat, a flavoured gel high in glucosamine, chondroitin, Omega 3 oils and MSM; and Ricky Buchu Capsules providing pain relief from arthritis and dysplasia in dogs.
- Exercise: Maintaining mobility through reasonable, gentle exercise is important regardless of a dog’s age and the extent of the arthritis. Non-weight–bearing exercise like swimming is excellent if not contraindicated by other medical conditions.
- Nutrition: Hills Canine Healthy Mobility in mini, medium and large breed is a specially formulated food containing increased levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, aimed at supporting active mobility, joint flexibility and ease of movement. The VetsBrands range also offers the nutraceutical addition of glucosamine as well as krill powder – the most concentrated form of Omega-3 oil – supporting joints and aiding mobility in all dogs.
- Medication: Few drugs are without possible side effects so discuss all treatment options with your vet first. Never, ever give your dog or cat human pain medication. Ibuprofen, for example, a popular human anti-inflammatory is toxic to dogs and Panado can kill a cat.
If you suspect your pet may be suffering from arthritis, consult your veterinarian or ask one of our friendly Vetshop consultants for assistance.