Everything You Need to Know About Arthritis in Your Pet

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World Arthritis Day is annually celebrated on the 12th of October, so we thought we would take this opportunity to raise awareness of arthritis in our furry friends!

Learning about the signs and causes of arthritis in your pet will help you spot symptoms sooner, improving your pet’s quality of life.

What is arthritis? 

Arthritis isn’t an individual disease; it is better explained as a term that describes the inflammation, pain, and stiffness that occur within the joints. There are over 100 types of arthritis, the most common in pets being osteoarthritis (osteo = bones).

Arthritis is more common in older pets, but it is important to remember that it can also appear in younger pets too.

How does arthritis affect your pet?

For context, a joint is simply where two bones meet, which allows for movement. Joints consist of two bone endings, cartilage, which is a tough flexible tissue that coats both bone endings, and the joint lining, which provides structural support and protection. 

The cartilage in a normal healthy joint is smooth to allow the bone endings to slide past each other for optimal movement. Initially, in osteoarthritis, the cartilage begins to break down due to injury, obesity, genetic factors, developmental joint disease, and ageing. This creates a rough surface on the bone endings, causing friction.

Once the cartilage has broken down over time, the ends of the bone will start to erode. This causes swelling, inflammation, and pain.

Over time, the joint can then become deformed, causing it to become unstable and resulting in pain, stiffness, and muscle wastage.

What are the causes of arthritis in pets?

Osteoarthritis in pets has increased at an alarming rate over recent years for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Joint deterioration due to ageing
  • Injuries such as ligament damage or broken bones
  • Hip dysplasia, which is a deformity of the joints, often caused by bad breeding
  • Under-development of joints, caused by too little or too much exercise during early life
  • Damage to or abnormal cartilage development
  • Obesity, where too much pressure is put onto the joints
  • Genetics

How to spot the signs of arthritis in your dog

Osteoarthritis affects 35% of dogs of all ages, which increases to 80% for those over 8 years old, according to Canine Arthritis Management. Arthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs, which is why the earlier you spot the symptoms, the better. Symptoms include:

  • Limping
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty laying down and getting up
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Reluctance to jump on and off furniture
  • Acting wary when touching their joints
  • Licking or chewing painful areas
  • Weight gain
  • Unexpected aggression
  • Yelping when touched
  • Reduced alertness

If you have noticed these signs in your dog, please seek veterinary advice.

How to spot the signs of arthritis in your cat

40% of all cats and 90% of cats over 12 years old display symptoms of osteoarthritis. Symptoms are similar in most animals and include:

  • Limping
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty laying down and getting up
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Reluctance to jump on and off furniture
  • Acting wary when touching their joints
  • Licking or chewing painful areas
  • Weight gain
  • Unexpected aggression
  • Difficulty going to the toilet
  • Reduction in self-grooming

If you have noticed these signs in your cat, please seek veterinary advice.

Is there a cure for arthritis?

The major concern with regard to arthritis is that cartilage has no regenerative potential. Once the cartilage has broken down, it cannot naturally repair itself. This means that there is no current cure and treatments are limited and predominantly surgical.

However, there are many things you can do at home to relieve those painful symptoms and reduce deterioration.

Research and treatment options for arthritis are improving due to advancements in technology. However, surgeries such as arthroscopic and orthopaedic surgery are more invasive and can be unsuitable for senior pets. Other options, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, can be prescribed by your vet to relieve pain and other negative symptoms.

How you can help your pets at home

Despite there currently being no known cure for arthritis, there is a lot you can do at home to keep your furry friend comfortable and mobile.

  • Massages
  • Regular moderate exercise
  • Maintain a healthy body weight with a healthy and steady diet
  • Keep your Pet Comfy with extra padding (e.g., blankets and pillows)
  • Give your pet dietary supplements such as Turmeric Curcumin and Omega 3 fatty acids

Our ‘Joint and Hip Aid’ has 1 key ingredient: Turmeric.

Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, is a powerful natural anti- inflammatory, which aids stiffness and pain by blocking inflammatory cytokines and enzymes in the body. Simply add it to food, water, or directly into your pet’s mouth to maintain and improve mobility. 

As we head into winter, looking after your pets' joints is even more important than ever. These procedures will be increasingly beneficial as temperatures begin to decline. Cold weather makes the fluid in the joints thicker, making it harder for your pet to move around and the joints more painful.

*Please note that some breeds are more genetically susceptible to arthritis than others. Please seek veterinary advice with any further questions with regard to your pet’s heath.

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