Sep 01 2015

Arthritis: Is it the same for pets?

Arthritis is common in people, especially as we age. Is it the same for pets?

Dogs have all the same bones and joints that we do and are prone to the same aging and stress that people are. So, arthritis is a fairly common problem, especially for older dogs and cats.

Is age the only cause of arthritis?

No. While age is the most common cause, pets can develop arthritis secondary to trauma, congenital defects like hip dysplasia, and to diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

What are the symptoms of arthritis for pets?

 Trouble getting up
 Stiff gait, especially after rest
 Decreased exercise tolerance
 Inappropriate soiling

Pets seem to have the greatest trouble after rest. When they first get up they are stiff, but the more they move around, the more the symptoms improve. Their ability to play and exercise also decreases. Due to pain, arthritic pets are reluctant to get up, will hold their urine and bowels too long and can have accidents in inappropriate places.

What can be done for arthritis?

Do not allow your older pet to become overweight. The extra pounds will greatly aggravate the arthritis. Keep their exercise regular. If your veterinarian recommends it, anti-inflammatory medications can be used. It is also popular to use nutritional supplements like Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate. These medications have become very popular for people as well.

How controllable is arthritis?

The symptoms can be controlled, usually for long periods. But in some pets, arthritis progresses to such a severe problem that we can no longer keep the pet mobile. People with severe physical handicaps can get around in a wheel chair or even be bed ridden, but a pet must be able to maintain mobility in order to have any quality of life. Unfortunately, arthritis, especially in larger breed dogs, is one of the common reasons for euthanasia.

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