Have you noticed your furry friend slowing down with age? Maybe they’re starting to have trouble climbing the stairs, or just seem less interested in chasing after their favourite toy? The big question on your mind might be, “Could this be arthritis?” Let’s dig into the world of arthritis and find out what you can do to keep your pet feeling their best.

What is arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and simply means ‘inflammation of the joint’. It’s a degenerative disease that covers a wide range of joint issues, and it’s not exclusive to humans. Our cats and dogs can face it too. Arthritis in our pets is commonly associated with ageing, however congenital issues (things your pet is born with), odd bone shapes, diseases, or injuries can also put pressure on their joints. This can lead to excessive wear and tear on the cartilage lining the joints, causing pain and discomfort.

Common signs of arthritis

Arthritis can be a subtle disease, and the symptoms can be difficult to recognise. Keep an eye out for signs like changes in mobility—perhaps they’re moving more slowly, limping occasionally, or showing a preference for certain legs. They might have trouble standing up, jumping or lying down, or display changes in behaviour like irritability or discomfort when touched in certain areas. An ungroomed coat is another common sign your cat may have arthritis.

Arthritis treatment

Just like in human medicine, there are several arthritis treatments for dogs and cats. You’ve got your traditional medications, ancient remedies, and even herbal options. These can help reduce joint swelling, calm inflammation, and repair cartilage. Some pets even find relief through acupuncture!

Provide comfort at home

What can you do at home to ease your pet’s discomfort? Here are some simple steps:

  • Give your pet a comfy, supportive bed that’s raised off cold floors.
  • Encourage light to moderate exercise if your pet is up for it. Think gentle walks or swimming.
  • Watch their weight. Extra weight can strain those joints, so a diet might make life more enjoyable.

Visit your vet for a check-up

If you’re concerned your furry friend is showing signs of slowing down, schedule a visit to your local vet. A thorough check of their medical history and a physical exam can often confirm the diagnosis. Although there’s no cure for arthritis, your vet can create a treatment plan to manage the condition and delay its progression, which can greatly improve your pet’s quality of life.