By Dr. Courtney Sherlock

What is Arthritis?

The term arthritis means “inflamed joint”.  There are two major types of arthritis, but the majority of pets with the condition have osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis, occurs when the cartilage of the joint is damaged for some reason.  This damage triggers a cascade of inflammatory changes within the joint, causing swelling, pain and more damage to the joint.

What are the signs of Osteoarthritis?

  • Stiffness, that usually gets better once the pet is “warmed up”
  • Difficulty rising from sitting, walking up stairs or jumping onto furniture
  • Trouble walking, running or playing as usual
  • Clicking of the joint when moving
  • Swelling of one or more joints
  • Limping or changes in gait
  • Changes in behavior, usually becoming withdrawn, cranky or aggressive

What are the risk factors for Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis can happen at any age for any reason.  There are some risk factors we can control, and many we cannot.  The most common risk factors for developing osteoarthritis are as follows:

  • Age – older joints have had more opportunity to become damaged or injured
  • Breed – some breeds re genetically predisposed to developing osteoarthritis
  • Injury – traumatic damage to the joint can lead to life long osteoarthritis symptoms
  • Weight – overweight pets put significantly more stress on their joints

How and when should we treat Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is what is known as chronic and degenerative disease, meaning it cannot be cured, and will get worse with time.  However, we can do a lot of decrease its progressing and alleviate pain.  Early detection and treatment is key to helping your pet live a long, healthy life.