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Arthritis in pets

Most pets will get some degree of arthritis as they age

Arthritis in Pets - It's a pain

Arthritis and Mobility : Key Points

  • Arthritis is probably the most common ailment affecting the older pet.
  • Do not ignore signs of slowing up or stiffness – there is lots that can be done to help.
  • Keeping slim is the best prevention against arthritis; feeding the right type and amount of food as a puppy can also make a big difference in later life.
  • There are pets alive and having a great time running around thanks to the modern arthritis medications and treatments available.
  • Vets often take x-rays to gauge the severity of the problem and to help make a decision as to what is the best course of treatment. Blood tests are also often done if your pet is going to stay on long term medication.​

​As your pet gets older you may notice them slowing up a little or appearing stiff. DO NOT IGNORE THIS. Don’t just put it down to old age. This is the classic symptom of the onset of arthritis which is a very common complaint in pets as they get on a bit.

In cats you may see them slowing up but also they may appear to be doing less grooming, may appear grumpy and just off form. It’s a bit different than is seen in dogs and a bit different than you may expect.  A cat getting grumpy or looking disheveled and unkempt  as he/she gets older is often due to the chronic pain associated with arthritis.

These pets are in pain – they just don’t show it and vocalise it in the same way as we do.

It is much better to get them treatment rather than ignoring it and accepting it as ‘just one of those things’.

Thankfully, there are many very effective and safe treatments available for these pets ranging from supplements like we can get in health food stores, anti-inflammatory pain killers and courses of injections to help reverse the changes in the joints. There are also some special therapeutic diets that can help a lot such as Hills J/D.

It is important to stress that you shoud never give your pet any human medications that you may have at home. If you think your pet needs something then please call us for advice. If we are closed, then the on-call vets are available to answer your queries and give advice.

Most pets with arthritis will have to remain on treatment for life – but without this treatment their life would be much shorter and considerably more painful.

Dogs with severely affected hips and elbows can undergo joint replacement surgery and continue to live when they would otherwise have been in agony or had to be put to sleep. While wonderful and life-saving this surgery is, it is very expensive. This is where your pet insurance comes in!

If you notice your pet slowing down, getting grumpy or looking a bit unkempt, make an appointment to see your vet as soon as you can, or just pick up the phone and ask your practice for advice (it’s free). The sooner these symptoms are spotted and treated the better, and there are many, many pets enjoying life thanks to the great treatments now available.

Signs of arthritis in your pet

Have you noticed a reduction in you dog's mobility?


  • Difficulty in jumping into car/chair or climbing stairs

  • Limping or stiffness

  • Difficulty in getting up


Have you noticed a reduction in your dog's activity?


  • Reluctance to walk or play

  • Sleeping/resting more, especially in one place

  • Lethargy


Have you noticed changes in grooming habits?


  • Unusual licking sometimes leading to bald areas

  • Chewing at joints


Have there been any changes in your dog's temperament?


  • Less tolerant towards children and/or other dogs

  • Reduced interaction with you/family

  • Increased anxiety/clinginess

Have you noticed your cat hesitating, or being more reluctant to jump up or down?


  • Onto your lap

  • The furniture

  • Through a cat flap


Have you noticed your cat slowing down?


  • Sleeping more - especially in one place

  • Stiffening up

  • Getting a bit creaky


Have you noticed a deterioration in your cat's appearance?


  • Matted or scurfy coat


Have you noticed any change in your cat's attitude or daily routine?


  • Less tolerant around people

  • More withdrawn

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