Arthritis in Senior Dogs and Cats

  • Is your walking buddy lagging behind on his daily stroll?
  • Is your cat having trouble jumping up on the couch to snuggle with you?
  • Maybe you have noticed a limp or your friend is having trouble climbing the stairs?
  • Is your cat’s fur looking a little less sleek and acquiring more mats? Or is she over grooming in some areas?

These may all be signs of arthritis starting in your senior pet. Your veterinarian can detect arthritis often by feeling and manipulating joints during a physical exam but radiographs are needed to confirm and detect arthritis that can’t be felt. Elbows, knees, hips and the spine are common sites of trouble.

Treatment for arthritis can involve medication called NSAIDs (non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) which help to reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. They can have side effects, including digestive issues and periodic blood tests, are recommended. There are other types of medications such as tramadol and gabapentin that can help provide pain relief. Glucosamine is a very safe supplement available in several forms that can help protect cartilage. There are some prescription diets such as j/d from Science Diet and mobility from Royal Canin which can help as well. If your pet has a few extra pounds shedding some weight may help, as well as encouraging regular light exercise to help maintain muscle mass and keep joints flexible. Alternative therapies also exist and may be helpful such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and laser therapy.

Ask us how we can help put a spring back in your pets’ step!

Written by Dr. Celeste Forgeron, DVM