Caring for Pets With Arthritis

Caring for Pets With Arthritis

Arthritis in dogs and cats is one of the most common problems our pets can face as they get older and, as with humans, it can flare up in cold weather.

Natural wear and tear, caused by aging, reduces the amount of cartilage that cushions the joints. This causes swelling and pain.

Signs of arthritis in your pet include stiffness or a reluctance to exercise, which we usually notice in our pets after they have been resting. If they are struggling to groom themselves, are overly licking areas that might be painful or are protective of you touching certain areas then they will need to be seen by the vet.

PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said: “Pets with arthritis may seem to have a little less energy, preferring to curl up in their beds instead of going out on a walk or spending time in the outdoors. Cats can struggle to groom themselves properly and may have a noticeable deterioration in their coat quality.”

Arthritis can’t be cured, but it can be managed through medication and simple changes to a pet’s lifestyle.

Olivia adds: “It’s worth visiting your vet if you notice any symptoms, or suspect your pet may have arthritis. Pain-relief and anti-inflammatory medication can be prescribed, and you’ll also be advice given on changes you can make at home to help make your pet more comfortable.

“Maintaining a healthy weight is very important because excess weight puts even more pressure on sore joints. It’s worth asking your vet about prescription diets or joint supplements for arthritis too, as these can beneficial.

“When it comes to exercise, ‘little and often’ helps keep joints mobile and puts them under less pressure than longer walks with extended periods of rest. Your vet or vet nurse will be able to give you an appropriate exercise and diet programme that is unique to your pet’s needs.”

Hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and acupuncture can also be helpful to relieve the difficulties and pain associated with arthritis. Ask your vet for a referral to an accredited specialist.

A typical treatment plan for a pet with arthritis could include:

  • Medication prescribed for your pet by their vet to reduce pain and swelling
  • Prescription diets or nutritional supplements that may improve joint function or reduce inflammation
  • Changes to your pet’s diet to keep them a healthy weight and size
  • Regular periods of short gentle exercise
  • Hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and other complementary treatments, if advised by your vet

Caring for an arthritic pet involves understanding from their owner, but with careful management and treatment, affected pets can still enjoy a good quality of life.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk

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11 thoughts on “Caring for Pets With Arthritis

  1. Clare Hemington says:

    We can also help our elderly felines by adapting our homes to cater for their special needs. Providing half way stepping stones or ramps to their favourite high spots will help them when stiff joints prevent them from being able to jump. Raising their food and water bowls will also help with any discomfort they may feel when lowering their heads to eat and drink. As cats age they lose the body fat which helps keep them warm. Providing them with a low voltage heat pad under their favourite bedding will not only provide them with a welcome source of heat, but can also help to ease any discomfort from aching joints.

  2. Rohvannyn says:

    A supplement called Cosequin has helped my arthritic kitty quite a bit, so if your vet advises it, you can find it on Amazon for a lot less than most pet stores sell it. One sprinkle capsule in the food a day and I started noticing a pretty big difference after about a month. It’s basically glucosamine and chondroitin in a cat friendly flavoring.

  3. Lauren says:

    This is as important as it is grim. I believe my late Coolidge became diabetic because his arthritis kept him from getting sufficient exercise. But there were many other factors, too. Arthritis itself keeps a cat from exercise and compromises his or her health. Arthritis is painful and depressing. I live with it too, but I’m sure Coolidge had it worse.

    • Marc-André says:

      I know :/ but we just had to share this. In fact November we always seem to share a lot of grim advice as it’s heading into winter. 😱

  4. Kris says:

    Moses is a polydactal. (24 toes) I was informed he would feel arthritis in those extra toes and I am pretty sure he does. I do have a ‘step’ for him to get onto the bed, he hates his back end touched or his extra toes.

  5. Pingback: Caring for Pets With Arthritis – Katzenworld | "OUR WORLD"

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