Understanding Arthritis in Dogs and Cats


Arthritis is a medical term used for any chronic condition that causes damage to the cartilage or joints. Although cats can be affected, arthritis is most commonly found in dogs—both young and old.

Arthritis typically appears in the stifle (knee), hip, elbow, shoulder, carpus (wrist), or hock (ankle); it can also occur in the spine. Most cases arise in dogs with an inherited orthopedic disease such as hip dysplasia, or those who have suffered some sort of injury to a joint.


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. It occurs when the cartilage in the joint is damaged from wear and tear, hip dysplasia or other congenital joint abnormalities, ruptured cruciate ligaments, trauma or other joint conditions. It is a progressive disease. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to slow the progression of the disease and establish a treatment plan with your veterinarian.

Symptoms of Arthritis

• Stiffness-especially in the morning or after first getting up
• Limping
• Difficulty in climbing stairs
• Trouble jumping up onto the bed or couch
• Evidence of pain when touched
• Reluctance to run and play normally
• Continual licking of a specific joint

Diagnosing Arthritis

Diagnosing arthritis and osteoarthritis is done by taking X-rays, in which it is not uncommon to see show bone spurs and joint space narrowing or other signs of degeneration.

Treatment Options

There is no cure for degenerative joint disease, but there are many treatments that can help improve comfort and quality of life.

Because overweight animals are much more likely to experience symptoms due to the added strain placed on the joints and discs of the vertebrae, weight reduction and maintenance of a lean body weight is extremely important in helping ease pain and symptoms.

Some treatment plans include physical therapy, weight management, prescription medications, joint supplements, acupuncture, and massage.

If your pet is showing any symptoms of arthritis, call and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss the best treatment for your pet. Treatment is most effective when started early in the disease process.


About Bothell Pet Hospital

Since 1954, Bothell Pet Hospital has been operating as an independent small animal hospital, providing primary veterinary care to cats and dogs in Bothell, Lake City, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Woodinville, Mill Creek, Kirkland, Brier, and other surrounding neighborhoods.
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