What is Arthritis?

This is inflammation of the joints. This can result in changes to the joint cartilage, the joint fluid, the bones involved in the joint and the actual capsule of the joint.

What are the common types of Canine Arthritis?

Many forms of arthritis occur. The following list gives an idea of what the main types are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Immune-mediated
  • Infective
  • Idiopathic (where the cause is unknown)

Below is the most common form of the disease which is osteoarthritis.

What is osteoarthritis?

This is joint disease involving degeneration of the articular cartilage followed by remodeling and new bone formation resulting in the signs of arthritis in the dog or cat.

What are the signs of arthritis in dogs & cats?

  • Gradual onset of lameness in one or more limb.
  • Dog less inclined to go for walks and may be reluctant to climb stairs.
  • Onset of stiffness being worst in the mornings improving as the day progresses.
  • Pain on palpation of the joints.
  • Joints may be swollen.

What are the causes of arthritis?

  • It frequently may be caused by traumatic injury resulting in joint instability. e.g. tearing of the cruciate ligament.
  • Overweight, obesity can hasten its development by increasing the concussive forces in the joint.
  • The joints may be genetically weakened or unstable as occurs in cases of hip dysplasia for example.
  • In young dogs it may be caused by failure of proper bone development. e.g. OCD

How is a diagnosis of canine arthritis made?

  • Usually based on the history as described above.
  • The clinical signs and by palpation of the joints.
  • Radiography (X-Ray) is very important in assessing degree of joint changes.
  • Joint fluid can be analyzed.

What treatments are available?

  • Remember firstly to deal with any problems of obesity.
  • If there is a traumatic cause , surgical repair of ligaments may be necessary to stabilise the joint.
  • Fitness and exercise regulation are important.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications are often necessary to control pain and inflammation and are extremely beneficial when used.
  • We often use joint supplements which often times increase the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory medication.
  • In severe cases, a series of strong anti-inflammatory injections are used over the course of a month to give your dog or cat a boost where it is needed.
  • There are special diets available specifically for dogs and cats with arthritis which also help.

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