<h2>You may or may not know it, but your pet could be suffering from arthritis.</h2>
Pain resulting from arthritis is a common reason cat and dog owners pursue evaluation and treatment with a veterinarian.
Day-to-day wear and tear and trauma (slipping, falling, being subject to blunt force, etc.) are some of the common reasons pets develop arthritis. Arthritis also results from other health conditions, like infection with tick or flea-borne bacteria, immune-mediated (i.e. ďautoimmuneĒ) disease, cancer, and others.
When untreated, arthritis can progress to osteoarthritis (OA, a term thatís interchangeable with arthritis) where the cartilage that surfaces lining joints are damaged and normal range of motion (ROM) is compromised. For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on OA.
<h3>Is Arthritis More Common in Some Pets Than Others?</h3>
Although arthritis is commonly associated with senior pets age seven or greater, juveniles (puppy and kittens) and adults are also prone to the condition.
Some pure-breed dogs are more prone to arthritis than their mixed-breed counterparts, but all breeds and their mixes can be affected by joint inflammation. Being a particular breed known to have arthritis doesnít sentence your dog to a lifetime of pain. Bulldogs (English, French, etc.), German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, and other large and giant-breeds are some examples of canines prone to joint inflammation.
I feel itís more appropriate for owners to recognize that the size and lifestyle of their pets generally has a greater correlation with developing arthritis as compared to breed. Dogs having a medium, large, or giant body size more commonly develop arthritis regardless of age than their smaller counterparts.
Small dogs and puppies are also prone to OA but their clinical signs are generally less-pronounced and owners may not be aware a problem exists until the condition has significantly advanced.
Cats can also develop OA, but like small dogs they tend to hide their condition until it advances and causes observable clinical signs. Pure-breed cats like the Maine Coon, Ragdoll and mixed breeds that attain a larger body size are more known to develop OA than smaller pure-breed felines and their mixes.
<h3>What are the Clinical Signs of Arthritis in Pets?</h3>
Clinical signs of arthritis may be mild or severe and sometimes only become evident when the disease has significantly advanced. Therefore, itís crucial that owners pay close attention to their petís movement, demeanor, and day-to-day habits and immediately address any concerns with their veterinarian. Common clinical signs of arthritis include:
Limping (or the more medical term lameness) is one of the more obvious signs of arthritis. You may see your pet having:
Reduced weight-bearing on the affected limb while walking, running, or standing
Inability to use a limb (non-weight bearing lameness)
Head bobbing while walking or running
Tendency to place the foot to the ground then immediately lifting it back up