Arthritis

What is Arthritis

Arthritis is the term given to an inflammation of the joints, although it is most commonly used to describe osteoarthritis which is known as the ‘wear -and -tear’ type of arthritis.

It is a chronic condition characterised by the breakdown of the joints cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement of joints.

As the cartilage wears out and becomes thin it allows bones to rub together resulting in stiffness, loss of movement in the joint, inflammation and pain.

Arthritis In Cats

Cats are very agile but over the years, this high level of activity can take its toll and cause wear and tear on his/her joints as a consequence.

Many older cats are living with very painful arthritis, the hips and the elbows being the most commonly affected joints. As cats are small and agile they can cover up mobility difficulties caused by arthritis and unlike dogs, cats with arthritis don’t generally limp. Instead, cats affected are more likely to show subtle changes in their lifestyle or behaviour.

Signs Of Arthritis In Cats

  • Hesitancy or no longer jumping onto laps
  • Hesitancy or no longer jumping onto furniture/counters
  • Hesitancy or no longer using the cat flap
  • Urinating and/or defaecating outside of the litter box, particularly if the litter box has high sides.
  • Reluctance to cover faeces or urine in the litter tray
  • Sleeping more, especially in one place
  • Stiffening up or getting ‘creaky’
  • Lack of appetite
  • Muscle wasting which may result in legs which appear thinner and smaller than previously.
  • Lack of grooming. Matted or scurfy coat.
  • Crying when picked up
  • More withdrawn such as hiding away more than normal and running away if handled and less tolerant.

Feline stress at Towerwood Vets 1

Diagnosing Arthritis In Cats

As cats do not show typical signs of arthritis such as lameness it is very easy for this condition to go undiagnosed and therefore untreated and the cat to remain in pain.

The only way to reliably diagnose arthritis in cats is to radiograph the joints. This does require an anaesthetic, or at least a deep sedation, in order to position the cat correctly to get diagnostic radiographs.

If the vet does suspect arthritis then he/she may offer solutions to relieve these symptoms without the need to x-ray which may include joint supplements, pain relief, acupuncture and/or a change in diet.

What Can You, The Owner Do To Help?

As a cat owner it can be very difficult for us to see our pets in discomfort and not being able to get around as much as they used to. If you have, or know someone with arthritis then you will appreciate just what a painful condition this is.

Artheritis in cats

Diagnosing Arthritis In Dogs

The only way to reliably diagnose arthritis in dogs is to radiograph the joints. This does require an anaesthetic, or at least a deep sedation, in order to position the dog correctly to get diagnostic radiographs.

If the vet does suspect arthritis then he/she may offer solutions to relieve these symptoms without the need to x-ray which may include joint supplements, pain relief, acupuncture and/or a change in diet.

What Can You, The Owner Do To Help?

As a dog owner it can be very difficult for us to see our pets in discomfort and not being able to get around as much as they used to. If you have, or know someone with arthritis then you will appreciate just what a painful condition this is.

It is vital that even if your dog is not outwardly showing signs of discomfort but is displaying any of the behaviour noted under ‘Signs Of Arthritis In Dogs’ on the previous page that you seek veterinary advice. It may be that those subtle changes in behaviour that you had put down to ‘old-age’ are in fact signs of pain.

Making your home ‘arthritic-dog’ friendly is probably one of the easiest things you can do.

  • Elevated feeders can help to improve your dog’s life so that he/she doesn’t have to bend down as far to eat or drink.
  • A dog car ramp can be a great way to help an arthritic dog to get easily in and out of the car.
  • Polished floors can be slippy and difficult to walk on with stiff legs. Placing mats down in areas where your’ dog normally spends their time is a good solution.
  • A dog harness versus a collar is gentler on the neck and back.
  • Ensuring that your dog is not or does not get overweight will greatly reduce the pressure put on the already painful joints.
  • Encouraging exercise will help prevent weight gain but the main benefit will be to help to keep the joints mobile and not to stiffen too much.

How Can We At TowerWood Vets Help?

Our nursing team offer clinics and if your dog or cat is displaying any of the behaviours mentioned or you suspect that he/she may have arthritis then we would advise that you make an appointment to come and chat with us to discuss how we can help your dog/cat live an active and pain free life.

We also offer urinalysis as part of nurse ‘cat well-being’ clinics. This gives us a good indication of how well your cat’s kidneys are functioning. This is important in understanding whether your cat has an underlying kidney condition that is making him/her display the behaviours mentioned rather than arthritis. Also in the event that your cat needs pain relief certain pain management drugs can affect the kidneys if they are already compromised and we would therefore recommend an alternative.

Please ask for details when booking your appointment.

It is vital that even if your cat is not outwardly showing signs of discomfort but is displaying any of the behaviour noted under ‘Signs Of Arthritis In Cats’ mentioned above that you seek veterinary advice. It may be that those subtle changes in behaviour that you had put down to ‘old-age’ are in fact signs of pain.

Making your home ‘arthritic-cat’ friendly is probably one of the easiest things you can do. Make sure that your cat’s bedding is placed on a low surface and that it is easy to climb into. The bed should also be well padded to make it as comfortable for old bones as possible. There are even special orthopaedic cat beds available that help to distribute body weight so that the joints are not under any pressure.

Make sure that litter trays do not have high sides, which would be difficult to climb in and out of and place all food, and water bowls on the floor in a safe area where the cat will not be disturbed.

Polished floors can be slippy and difficult to walk on with stiff legs. Placing mats down in areas where your’ cat normally spends their time is a good solution.

Ensuring that your cat is not or does not get overweight will greatly reduce the pressure put on the already painful joints.

Encouraging exercise (such as a gentle game of chase the toy or a leisurely stroll around the garden) will help prevent weight gain but the main benefit will be to help to keep the joints mobile and not to stiffen too much.

Signs Of Arthritis In Dogs

  • A noticeable limp (favouring a limb)
  • A noticeable swollen joint(s)
  • Difficulty getting up or lying down
  • Difficulty getting in or out of his/her bed or basket especially after a long rest or sleep period.
  • Unwillingness or difficulty climbing stairs, getting into a car, jumping on or off a sofa and/or bed.
  • Walking slower than normal or a change in gait
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased activity or less interest in play
  • Difficulty squatting to defaecate
  • Sleeping more
  • Attitude or behaviour changes.
Contact usFor more information about our Greengates branch, or to book an appointment for your pet simply contact our friendly team on 0127 4610 627.