Arthritis in dogs and cats


Meet George! He is an 8 year old Great Pyrenees Mix. Like many older pets, George suffers from arthritis.

Is your dog or cat showing signs of arthritis? If your pet is getting older, you should be watching for symptoms.  Arthritis can create discomfort and pain for animals. Thankfully, with so many options available to manage arthritis, your pet does not have to stay in pain!

Arthritis signs:

  • Slower to rise
  • Trouble jumping on things
  • Trouble with stairs
  • Limping, stiffness
  • Sensitivity or unexpected aggression when touched in certain areas
  • Muscle changes
  • Unwillingness to run and play

What should you do if you think your pet is showing signs of arthritis?

  • Schedule an appointment to have your pet examined. While arthritis is one of the more common causes of the signs listed above, it is important to rule out other potential causes (e.g. orthopedic injury, back problems, infectious diseases, bone cancer, metabolic conditions)
  • Our veterinarians may recommend diagnostic testing such as radiographs and/or lab work. Radiographs can help confirm arthritis (and the extent of the problem) or help to identify a different explanation for the signs. Lab work can rule out underlying metabolic problems and also help assess your pet’s ability to tolerate prescription pain medication.
  • Make sure your pet is at a healthy weight. Arthritic animals suffer more when they are carrying around extra weight.
  • Provide your pet with plenty of soft, padded bedding.
  • Consider using ramps in place of stairs.
  • Add non-skid surfaces (like grip rugs) to slippery floors.
  • Raise food and water bowls.
  • Our veterinarians can recommend a variety of different pain management strategies for arthritis. Examples include nutraceuticals, nutrition (e.g. j/d and Healthy Mobility by Hill’s), exercise, weight management, physical therapy, massage, Disease Modifying Osteoarthritis Drugs (DMOADs), laser therapy, acupuncture, and a variety of different prescription pain medications.
  • It is extremely important to remember dogs and cats are not humans – which means human over-the-counter pain medications could be very dangerous for your pet.

If you think your pet is suffering from arthritis, schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians today!

Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS