Osteoarthritis in pets

Osteoarthritis in Cats and Dogs – what is it?

Osteoarthritis is common in companion animals esp. old aged, overweight or obese and those predisposed to joint problems.  In one source written by Marcellin-Little in ESVOT Congress, study done in German shepherds, 30% of the dogs had osteoarthritis. Of 100 mature dogs surveyed at necropsy, osteoarthritis was present in the hip (52%), shoulder (37%), stile (36%), and elbow joints (5%). Osteoarthritis is dogs most often secondary to hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament injuries, patellar luxation, elbow dysplasia, and osteochondritis dissecans, bone and cartilage develop abnormally in which a flap of cartilage develops within the joint. It is more prevalent in overweight, 8 year old dogs than among non-overweight, age match siblings. In two studies, osteoarthritis was identified in 20 to 90% of cats’ 12years of age or older.  The disease was observed in the elbows (64%), shoulders (21%), hip (7%), and tarsus (7%).

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain, loss of mobility, and a decreased quality of life of both dogs and cats.

When the cartilage lining the bone in a joint breaks down, it effectively loses its cushion causing friction between bones, which leads to pain and decreased mobility in the affected joints. This inflammation can stimulate bony growths to form around the joints and thickening soft tissue.

Causes of Osteoarthritis

There is no known cause for primary Osteoarthritis. Although there are variety of factors in developing a secondary Osteoarthritis may include:

  • Aging
  • Repeated trauma or old injuries
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Activity level and weight
  • Congenital joint disease such Osteochondrosis, or elbow and hip dysplasia

Signs that your pet might have Osteoarthritis:

  • Walking stiffly
  • Rising slower esp. moning
  • Limping/Lamenes
  • Stiffness or swollen joints
  • Pain or discomfort near certain joints
  • Finds certain positions uncomfortable or painful
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Hesitant to jump, climbs stairs, or run
  • Abnormal gait, “bunny hopping”
  • Licking or chewing affected joint

It is important to recognize these signs and begin treatment early, to slow the progression and help preserve your dog’s quality of life.  Make an appointment with your veterinarian to have your loving furry friend examined.



Osteoarthritis in pets

Diagnosing Osteoarthritic Patients

Your veterinarian diagnosed Osteoarthritis based on your pet’s medical history, age, as well as a physical examination. X-rays can also be helpful to see how severe the disease is. Before your veterinarian will make a treatment plan, blood testing might be necessary to screen the liver and kidneys are functioning well because of the side effects incurred in using anti-inflammatory drugs.

Treating Osteoarthritic Patients

In the past, the primary therapy for dogs with osteoarthritis was to prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, NSAIDs can only mask the symptoms, rather than threating the cause. Considering the negative side effect such as ulcers, kidney, liver and heart damage. Since osteoarthritis is irreversible, here are the potential therapy options:

  • Weight control – evaluate your pet’s body condition, if he is getting overweight or obese. Consult your veterinarian before starting any losing weight program that includes diet.
  • Controlled exercise – small walks and exercise maintains weight, flexibility and encourages healing joints.
  • Hydrotherapy – swimming helps strengthen muscle without putting much stress on the joints.
  • Pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs – consult your veterinarian first before deciding to start the treatment. This is used for short-term pain relief.
  • Chondroprotective agents – consult your veterinarian, these are agents that gives protection to the cartilage.
  • Nutraceuticals – such as Glucosamine, Chondrotin, Hyaluronic acid, And Omega-3 Fatty Acids has been described in one publication as the building block of the matrix of articular cartilage.
  • Complete physical examination – have your veterinarian evaluate your dog’s joints at least once a year.

If your pet does not respond to these options, surgical intervention may be necessary.

How to Prevent Osteoarthritis?

Talk to your veterinarian for specific recommendations for your pet’s individual needs. Ensure your pet is taking the right nutrition at early age (balance diet preventing overweight or obesity) and regular exercise keeping his body healthy and helps him maintaining a proper weight. Joint supplements helps to slow down the progression of joint problems.  With the proper care, you can keep your furry friend healthy and active throughout their entire life.

Discuss with your veterinarian about Osteoarthritis

If you see that your cat or dog is showing signs of Osteoarthritis mentioned above, contact Al Barsha Veterinary Clinic for a check with one of our vets. You may discuss an exercise regimen and possible new diet.

Grab this chance as May is “Arthritis Awareness Month” and have 15% discount on all joint supplements and joint related food.