Arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting older or senior pets, although it can be diagnosed in pets at any age. Creating pain and limiting mobility, unmanaged arthritis can diminish a fur friend’s quality of life. Thankfully, modern veterinary medicine can not only accurately diagnose this joint disease, it can also provide many treatment options for improved wellbeing.

Keep reading to learn more about arthritis in pets and what you can do to support your four-legged friend.

Arthritis in Pets

Arthritis is a catchall name for conditions affecting the health of the joints. From ligament ruptures to hip or elbow dysplasia to congenital disorders, there are a number of different causes of arthritis.

Although certain conditions or injuries can increase your pet’s risk, most of the time, arthritis stems from aging and the cumulative effects of wear and tear on the joints. Over time, the fibrous tissue (fascia) and ligaments that support the joints stretch and wear thin, eroding the joints and causing inflammation.

In addition, bony deposits form and create more pain and inflammation. Because this process of wear and tear takes time, many pets will have the onset of arthritis at an early age, but will not show any symptoms until their mid-life and senior years.

When symptoms do arise, they often include:

  • Stiffness
  • Limping or favoring one limb or limbs
  • Difficulty rising, lying down, and climbing steps
  • Decreased interest in exercise
  • Noticeable pain

Caring for an Arthritic Pet

Managing arthritis in pets often relies on diagnosing any co-occurring problems or conditions that contribute to arthritis. In some cases, this may indicate the need for surgery, such as in the case of patella luxation or a torn cruciate ligament. It may also mean managing diet and weight.

Treating arthritis is often multimodal, including anti-inflammatories, supplements, nutrition, and pain management. Alternative therapies like laser therapy, acupuncture, and lifestyle changes may be recommended as well.

As the pet owner, you play an integral role in the care of your best friend with at-home supports. Some of the ways you can help your pet include:

  • Help him or her lose any excess weight since obesity can cause more stress on the joints.
  • Inquire with your veterinarian about the right diet for your pet, including prescription diets and supplements.
  • Invest in an orthopedic bed or offer your furry pal more blankets for extra support.
  • Continue to offer gentle forms of daily exercise, such a short walks or a rehabilitative swimming session in warm water.
  • Provide ramps in place of steps and when getting in and out of the car.
  • Maintain at least twice-yearly senior wellness exams so The Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center can advise on additional treatments and at-home supports to care for your four-legged.

While arthritis may be a natural condition of a long, active life, there’s no reason for a pet to be in pain or discomfort. With quality veterinary care and understanding, your best fur friend will continue to enjoy a great life.