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Arthritis in Pets

The experts at North Shore Animal League America care about you and your pet’s well-being and would like to offer you some insight into a common but complex condition. Arthritis in dogs and cats is very similar to human arthritis. It is a degenerative disease that causes stiffness, discomfort and pain in the muscles and joints.

What are the symptoms of pet arthritis?
Excessive sleeping, fever, lameness, lethargy, limping, muscle loss, pain in the legs, a reluctance to jump or go up stairs and weight loss are all signs that your pet may be suffering from arthritis. However, only a veterinarian can properly diagnose your pet’s symptoms. If your dog or cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.

What causes pet arthritis?
Injuries, accidents and wear and tear on the muscles and joints are all causes for pet arthritis. Certain diseases or infections can also lead to arthritis – especially hip dysplasia.

While arthritis is more common in older pets from muscle and joint deterioration, a dog or cat at any age that suffers some type of trauma to the joints and muscles can get arthritis.

How do I treat pet arthritis?
Once your dog or cat is diagnosed with arthritis, you and your veterinarian will discuss the different remedies and treatments and decide on what is best for your pet. Possible remedies will include, medications – alone or in combination, herbal supplements and in severe cases, surgery.

Can I prevent my pet from getting arthritis?
You can greatly reduce the risk of your pet getting arthritis by keeping it active and watching its weight. Arthritis is more prevalent in obese pets because of the strain on their muscles and joints. Diet and exercise can be very helpful in warding off arthritis as well as other health issues. Joint supplements can also help in maintaining joint function. Taken daily for optimal joint health, supplements assist in cartilage production, which can help in preventing arthritis from developing.

How can I help my pet who already has been diagnosed with arthritis?
You can do simple things to help ease your pet’s discomfort.

  • Make sure your pet’s sleeping area is cushioned and comfortable to ease the strain on the joints and muscles
  • Position your pets’ food bowls so that they are easier for them to reach
  • Help your dog or cat with steps or stairs to help ease pain
  • Watch your pets’ weight to avoid putting unnecessary strain on their joints and muscles
  • Keep your pet warm and dry in inclement weather and make sure he or she always has a comfortable retreat

North Shore Animal League America’s Pet Health Advice is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s health. Never disregard professional veterinary advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read online.


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