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Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

Look for these signs that your cat or dog may have arthritis.

By Matt Popkin. April 23, 2012 | See Comments

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Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

Learn more about the symptoms of arthritis in dogs and cats so you can be prepared to address this condition.

Here's the best way to describe the symptoms of arthritis in dogs and cats. Imagine it’s the morning after a killer workout. You get out of bed and start moving, but it’s really hard. You have to drag yourself across the room on your sore and tired legs. Your muscles hurt! And your joints are stiff!In summary, you’re moving like a pet with arthritis. Keep in mind that the pain your pet is suffering is likely to be a dull, aching sort of pain. That means you shouldn’t expect your dog and cat to be constantly whimpering. Rather, here are some more clear symptoms that your pet may show when they are suffering from arthritis.

LIMPING

If you see your pet limping or walking stiffly around the house, especially after they have been resting for a long period of time, they may be suffering from arthritis. Watch your pet when they wake up in the morning. Are they having a hard time standing up? Is it hard for them to “get their motor going” and get their legs to move?
When you watch your pet, also look to see if they are suddenly changing their walk to favor one limb over the others or if they are trying to keep their weight off a certain limb. This is a sign that the joints in that particular leg may be bothering them and that they may be suffering from osteoarthritis, otherwise known as degenerative arthritis, in that limb.

MUSCLE LOSS

Another way to observe if your pet is suffering from osteoarthritis is to see if any of their limbs have noticeably less muscle than the others. This can be caused by your pet favoring one leg over the others. If they keep their weight off a leg for long enough, it will begin to atrophy and lose muscle mass. The difference between the legs sometimes is not very visible from far away so don’t be afraid to get up close and take a good look at your pet’s legs to see if there is a clear difference between them.

THE JUMP TEST

Another way to test the condition of your pet’s joints is what’s called the Jump Test. It can be as simple as calling your pet over when you are sitting on the couch and seeing if they will jump up to join you. You can also see if they will jump up to greet you when you come home, or if they will jump to catch a tennis ball.Whatever you choose to do to inspire your pet to get airborne, the point is that a healthy dog who is not suffering from arthritis is much more likely to be willing to jump and then land. If your pet can no longer jump or whines in pain after landing, they may be suffering from osteoarthritis.

Other symptoms of arthritis in dogs and cats may include

  • Difficulty sitting
  • A tendency to sleep more
  • A more grumpy attitude
  • Not wanting to play as much
  • Less energy

As you can see, none of these symptoms of arthritis are life-threatening. But they can affect your pet’s well-being and quality of life. That’s why you need to treat arthritis the best you can. Luckily, there are many treatment options out there to help your pet.

Related Content

Causes of Dog and Cat Arthritis
Dog and Cat Arthritis Treatment
Canine and Feline Arthritis: 5 Things You Should Know

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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