6 signs that say your pets have Arthritis (Part 1)

Health, last updated 18th, May 2015, Neha Manchanda


What is arthritis?

Arthritis, or osteoarthritis, is one of the most common joint problems that inflict middle age and older pets across the world. Arthritis is a general term for any abnormal changes in the bones and the connecting joints. Arthritis can be caused due to any damage or injury to the joint tissue or from congential defects and even due to stress and trauma to joint surfaces and supporting structures. Very rarely is arthritis caused due to the the dirder of the immune system.

What happens to the joints in case of Arthritis?

Arthritis is commonly seen in pets who have hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a medical condition that is caused partly due to the abnormal conformation and misalingment of the hip joint. In case of hip dysplasia, the cartilage in the joints is severely affected and it wears away faster than it can regenerate causing a grinding sound when the dog or cat walks. Over a period of time the cartilage withers away and the joint becomes inflammed causing the surrounding joint to stiffen and swell and become inflamed. As the joint stiffens, calcium deposits build up and the joint  becomes extremely painful causing restriction of movement. The restriction of movement causes weight gain in pets and further restricts movement.

Here are 6 signs that you as pet parents need to watch out for in your pets to detect the onset of arthritis:

Limping - If you notice your pet limping or favouring one or more of his / her legs, he  / she may be facing arthritic problems. You may also notice that the limp may seem to get worse when your pet rises or get up from a lying down position.

Restricted movement - Due to pain in the joints, your pet may display restriction in movements especially in carrying out simple tasks that were earlier easy to carry out. Things such as climbing stairs, climbing into and oout of the car, jumping on perchtops / counter tops may become restricted.

Changes in posture - Arthritis and limping may cause changes in the posture. These changes may result in sore neck / stiff neck, abnormal posture and lameness in one or both the hind legs.

Lethargy - Restriction in movement and pain the joint may cause your pet to become extremely lethargic. They would prefer sleeping or resting over carrying out their daily activities.

Mood swings - Due to lethargy, restricted movements and constant pain in the joints your pets may become irritable and display mood swings. Many would prefer to hide or stay away from company while some might bite or show aggression.

Muscle atrophy - Arthritic pets often develop muscle atrophy of the muscle tissue due to inactivity and decreased use of the muscles. 

If you suspect that your pet might be developing arthritis, it will be a good idea to consult a vet immediately. In our next article we will talk about living and management of arthritis in pets.

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