News // 4.4.21

Managing Osteoarthritis in dogs and cats

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a common condition we see and treat at Allambie Vet. Approximately 25 percent of dogs are diagnosed with arthritis and as many as 60 percent of dogs have signs of arthritis on radiographs. Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is a degenerative, progressive, and irreversible condition of the joints. Osteoarthritis can affect any age, sex, and breed of dog and cat.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis in my dog or cat?

The signs of osteoarthritis vary widely from very discreet to very severe. Some dogs and cats show no lameness, some become unwilling to exercise, and some have a hard time walking. A common sign in dogs is stiffness or lameness after waking. Cats often show no signs unless they are severe but can involve being less active/ sleeping more.

Recognising arthritis in dogs can be difficult in many cases because the condition can progress slowly and dogs don’t complain about their aching joints. The consequences of osteoarthritis include joint pain and, over time, a potential loss of joint movement, strength, and fitness. 

How can we help manage Osteoarthritis?

There are three key aspects:

  • Weight Optimisation
  • Pain Management
  • Activity Modification

Managing your pet’s weight is important. Excess weight increases stress on the joints and muscles. If your pet is overweight, weight loss is recommended. Daily, low impact activities such as walking and swimming, will not only help your pet with losing weight but can also improve joint mobility, muscle mass and exercise intolerance.

The activity of dogs with osteoarthritis should be adapted to their needs. Exercise is important to keep dogs fit and strong, but strenuous activities that trigger lameness and flare-ups should be avoided.

How to relieve arthritis pain in dogs & cats?

Pain management of arthritis includes anti-inflammatory medications and more traditional pain relief medications.

  • Zydax injections. This medication is a disease modifying osteoarthritis drug. It slows arthritis progression, reduces inflammation and provides pain management. It helps to increase the amount of joint fluid within all the joints and helps lubricate and reduce any bone on bone pain. These injections are given as a course once a week for 4 weeks and last 6 months.
  • Non-steriodal anti-inflammatory medications. These medications reduce the inflammation inside an affected joint and provide very effective pain relief as well.
  • Additional prescription pain relief medications. Now days there are a number of adjunctive pain relief medications that are often used in combination with the nonsteroidal medications to help our more severe arthritis patients.
  • Joint supplements containing concentrated green-lipped muscle will help support the cartilage and will have some anti-inflammatory effects. Antinol capsules and Glyde powder or chews are great examples and have some good research behind them.
  • Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, physical therapy, laser therapy and rehabilitation therapy are available and can be very helpful.

With a good management plan and monitoring, arthritis can be carefully managed in dogs and cats, resulting in a good quality of life that you and your pet will appreciate.

Read more about our general cat advice and dog advice.

Book an appointment with one of our senior vets to discuss or review an arthritis management plan.

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