What is osteoarthritis in cats and dogs?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a complex condition involving inflammation and degeneration of one or more joints. The word osteoarthritis is derived from several words in Greek: osteo meaning “bone,” arthro meaning “joint,” and itis meaning “inflammation.”

Cats and dogs with OA experience pain and inflammation in various joints that interfere with the activities of daily living. OA is diagnosed through a combination of a thorough physical examination by your veterinarian.

What can cause OA?

Osteoarthritis can have many factors influence its initiation and development. This can include the following:

  • Body conformation (how a cat/dog is built)
  • Body condition/weight (overweight and obesity are highly correlated with OA)
  • Abnormal joint development
  • Injury history (fracture, ligament damage, muscle injury, joint infection, damage/erosion of cartilage)
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Nutritional history

What are some signs to look for besides difficulty jumping?

Cats and dogs can exhibit many different signs when they have OA, and they do not all have the same signs or symptoms. They may not even be consistent with the signs you see.

In dogs we commonly see:

  • Slower to get on the couch – they may step onto the couch versus jump
  • Slower on walks or not go as long as they use to
  • Bunny hopping in the back legs when running
  • Limping
  • Stiff when first getting up from sleeping or laying down

The most common signs cat owners may notice include:

  • Difficulty getting up and down - they may claw up the bed instead of bounding
  • Sleeping on the floor versus elevated spots where they use to
  • Reluctance to jump up or down (onto/off furniture or into/out of a vehicle)
  • Crankier than normal
  • Pooping outside the litter box

If you are noticing any of these signs and suspect your furry friend may have OA, please do not hesitate to give us a call and make an appointment for your fur baby today!

Treatment is not one size fits all – we’ll discuss the options that fit your pet the best from acupuncture, holistic supplements to medications, and monthly injections that can help your pet live comfortably with osteoarthritis.