Pet Joints, Mobility & Arthritis - A Vet's Guide
Most veterinary surgeons spend a lot of their day diagnosing and managing joint and mobility problems in our pets. At my West London Veterinary clinics, I estimate we spend nearly 15% of our time treating cats, dogs and rabbits with arthritis and other joint and bone pain.
Remembering that one year is the same as seven years for a cat or big dog, it’s to be expected in older pets that the joints will deteriorate from wear and tear resulting in arthritis, and any pet could develop problems after a joint injury.
10 Signs Of Joint and Mobility Deterioration
- Difficult walking, running and climbing
- Less active in the day
- Struggling to groom their rear end
- Sleeping more
- Slowing down on their walks
- Unable to walk as far
- Struggling to jump up
- Not as playful as they were
- Whimpering or licking at a joint
- Joints warm to touch or flinching
Spotting arthritis in dogs
Often our clients will quickly notice that their dog has a problem when they stop walking as far or aren’t as agile when jumping in or out of the car (or up onto the sofa or bed if they are allowed).
In dogs, we commonly see elbow, knee and hip arthritis and also spinal pain. Young dogs may have elbow and shoulder problems due to growing bones causing abnormal forces inside the joints. This is called dysplasia and is also common in hips in certain breeds. Of course, any of us can also injure ourselves often causing joint or bone pain.
What to look for in cats
With cats, it can be more difficult to spot. Sometimes they may just become more still – not too easy to spot sometimes in an animal that already sleeps 16 hours a day! Often we pick up spinal pain when a cat comes in for their annual vaccination and check-up. Cats may develop spinal arthritis and also hip and stifle and elbow problems.
Treating joint and mobility problems
Treatment for most joint pain will include a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. Your vet will usually prescribe an anti-inflammatory for pain relief and to help get rid of inflammation. Often we’ll want to take an x-ray of your pet to check what is happening in the joint. In some circumstances and especially if a pet has spinal problems we’ll want to send your pet for an MRI or CT scan. We often add in Tramadol and Gabapentin as additional pain relief too.
Many human pain-killers are very toxic and possibly fatal to our pets so, do not give your pets any human drugs.
Helping your pet stay in shapeThe long-term management of arthritis involves weight management, anti-inflammatories and pain-relief, dietary supplements, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and in our
clinics we have a specialist acupuncturist come in each week. With good management, we can maintain good mobility and a happier healthier pet. Their increased mobility will help keep them active for longer and greatly improves your pet’s quality of life.
It’s is really important to take your pet to the vet at least once a year to get their annual check-up so we have the opportunity to spot and treat problems early on.
Enjoy your pets.