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7 Signs Your Dog or Cat May be Suffering from Arthritis

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How to Spot Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

By Lorie Huston, DVM

Arthritis is one of the most common ailments seen in middle-aged to older pets. Even younger dogs and cats, under the right circumstances, can suffer from arthritic changes. Arthritis causes changes within the affected joints that are painful for the affected pet. This pain is responsible for many of the signs associated with arthritis. Here are seven of those common signs.

1. Limping

You may see your pet limping or favoring one or more of his legs, depending on which legs and which joints are arthritic. In some cases, the limp may seem worse when your pet first rises and become less noticeable as your pet “warms up” by moving around.

2. Difficulty Moving

Your pet may also become reluctant to do things that were previously easy for him to accomplish. For instance, your dog may find it difficult to get into and out of the car or may have difficulty going up and down stairs that were previously easily manageable. Arthritic cats, on the other hand, may stop jumping onto countertops, perches and other high areas because of the pain and discomfort.

3. Spinal Issues

Arthritic changes can occur not only in the legs but also in the various parts of the spine. These changes may result in a sore neck, an abnormal posture with a “hunch” in the back, or lameness of one or both hind legs.

4. Tiredness

Your pet may tire more easily. For dogs, this may mean that walks become shorter and more painful for your pet. Your pet may spend more time sleeping and/or resting.

5. Irritability

Arthritic animals may become irritable. They may snap and/or bite when approached or handled, particularly if the petting or handling takes place in a manner that increases their pain.

6. Muscle Atrophy

Arthritic pets often develop muscle atrophy or dying off of the muscle tissue due to inactivity and decreased use of the muscles. A pet with atrophied muscles in their legs will have a leg which looks thinner than a normal leg.

7. Licking, Chewing & Biting

Pets affected with arthritis may also begin to lick at, chew or bite at body areas that are painful. This may even reach the point of causing inflamed skin and hair loss over affected areas.

Arthritis Treatment for Dogs and Cats

Though arthritis cannot be cured, there are various remedies and procedures that can help ease the pain for your pet. Consult your veterinarian for advice if you believe your dog or cat is suffering from arthritis.


Arthritis in cats can be particularly hard to spot. Many arthritic cats simply become less active. Often, this change in behavior corresponds to the cat becoming older and a cat owner may simply assume that the change is normal when, in fact, your cat may actually be decreasing his activity level because he is in pain due to arthritis.

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  • Nice Presentation
    08/25/2015 06:36am

    That's an awesome presentation explaining Arthritis situation in dogs and cats. Here is a detailed infographic on similar topic of Arthritis in dogs and cats covering:
    [list] [Much more insights with a survey on Australian pets suffering from Arthritis][/list],
    [list][Problem areas and Symptoms,][/list]
    [list][Arthritis treatment for dogs and cats].[/list]


    Source: [url=http://gordonvet.com.au/5-signs-of-arthritis-in-dogs-and-cats/]gordonvet.com.au/5-signs-of-arthritis-in-dogs-and-cats[/url]

  • Vet's the hero!
    01/22/2016 04:06pm

    Thanks for the heads up! This reminds me of the time when my Lily showed the same symptoms. She didn't eat as much and just seemed off. She had difficulty moving and cried a lot. It was terrible! Brought her to the vet the following morning and I was relieved. It wasn't arthritis or anything serious. The vet prescribed a pain reliever, though. I was skeptical at first, thinking it might have bad side effects but this page http://www.dogsbynina.com/best-nail-clippers-for-your-dog/best-flea-medicine-for-dogs/tramadol-for-dogs/ helped eliminate all my worries. Lily got better and I'm happy to be taking a walk again with her. I just love her!

  • The limp made it obvious!
    04/19/2016 10:55am

    When I noticed that our dog was limping last year, especially in the mornings and often after going on long walks, I brought her into the vet immediately. I figure with how short the a dog's life already is, there's no reason to waste time guessing about what the problem is, all while your dog is in pain and their quality of life is suffering. When she was diagnosed with arthritis in her knees, we weren't that surprised. She's already 11 years old and weighs 80 pounds and her joints have put up with a lot of wear and tear. We're an active family so she's always been an active dog! We've been giving her a natural anti-inflammatory with Devil's Claw.

    Our vet also recommended we buy an Ortocanis dog knee brace online, which for the price and quality she said was her favorite. We couldn't have been more pleased with our purchase. The quality is great, long-lasting (a year later after moderate to intensive use, it's still in perfect condition), and the price extremely reasonable.

    I'll leave the link for anyone interested - http://www.ortocanis.com/en/technical-helps-for-dogs/90-knee-brace.html

    Hopefully we can manage to keep her arthritis under control for at least a few more years...

  • 05/23/2016 04:20pm

    Hi Maya - my dog is 12 and has arthritis in both of her knees. I'm told it's normal for a dog of her age and that there's not too much I can do about it besides trying to remedy her pain and keep her as comfortable as possible. We've also been an active family for as long as I can remember and am searching for options that can keep my boxer active for as long as possible. I'm going to look at the Ortocanis dog knee brace you mentioned, I'm open to trying anything and I've seen some other people saying positive things about it online as well. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Need advice on product
    12/13/2016 04:54am

    There's so many articles on the web nowadays but this site is great as it has just about all the information you need. I was wondering if anyone has tried out the [url=www.quincysdogs.com]Quincysdogs[/url] ‘GenX’ harness. Having read their article on arthritis in dogs (which was also very good and clear - [url=http://www.quincysdogs.com/treatments-arthritis-dogs/]http://www.quincysdogs.com/treatments-arthritis-dogs/[/url] ) and having looked at their video showing an instant change in a dog who could hardly walk to suddenly walking again with the aid of the GenX harness, [url=https://youtu.be/xylhSqOybWE]https://youtu.be/xylhSqOybWE[/url] , I was just wondering if anyone can advise me more about this before I go ahead and buy one. Thanks and look forward to hearing.