5 Things to Know about Cat and Dog Arthritis What to Know about Pet Arthritis

5 Things to Know about Cat and Dog Arthritis
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Arthritis can affect both dogs and cats. Here are a few things we thought you should know to take better take care of your pet.

It can sometimes be difficult to wade through the large amounts of information on the subject of canine and feline arthritis. Sometimes you just donโ€™t have time to read every little thing out there!

Luckily for you, weโ€™ve compiled the five things you should know about arthritis when it comes to keeping your pet healthy. Read this, and you'll be well on your way to taking great care of your pet!

1. Arthritis is not life-threatening.

In the end, arthritis will not kill your pet. However, it can severely hinder your petโ€™s quality of life by making it much harder for them to move around and to play with both you and other dogs. No one wants their pet to be in pain or to watch their dog struggle to climb stairs, which is why you should treat your pet for arthritis as soon as the symptoms first begin to show themselves.

2. Old age is the most common cause of arthritis.

In a lot of cases, a lifetime full of playing, jumping, and running wears down the cartilage on your petโ€™s joints. As your pet gets older, their cartilage regrews in a more jagged and less complete way, causing pain in their joints. It's not that your pet is unhealthy. It's simply time starting to catch up to your dog or cat. And while old age is the most common cause of arthritis, it certainly isn't the only cause. The condition can also come from previous joint ailments like hip dysplasia.  

3. Watch for a limp. It could be a sign of arthritis.

If your pet is exhibiting a noticeable limp, they may have arthritis. The limp should be especially noticeable after your pet has been sleeping or resting for a long time. If your pet struggles to get up after being still consistently, you should have them checked out by a vet. You should also look to see if one of your pet's limbs has lost a noticeable amount of muscle mass. This could be a sign that they have been trying to keep their weight off that leg, because the joint has been bothering them.

4. Keep your pet trim to help with arthritis pain.

Exercise is important when treating arthritis, because it will keep your pet slim and thus keep weight off their joints. Less weight means less strain! Overweight dogs put more stress on their joints than those that are healthy. But you have to be careful. Over-exercise could damage your petโ€™s joints even more. Thatโ€™s why some recommend hydrotherapy for pets suffering from arthritis. Swimming is a low-impact form of exercise that spares your petโ€™s joints from too much pounding.

5. There are two main types of arthritis medicine: pain killers and joint health supplements.

The most common types of arthritis medications for dogs and cats are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, otherwise known as NSAIDs. Think of NSAIDs as a dog version of Tylenol or Advil. Popular NSAID type drugs like Rimadyl and Deramaxx help fight inflammation in your dogโ€™s joints, as well as give them pain relief that can help them move more freely. While NSAIDs can be toxic for cats, both cats and dogs can take joint health supplements. However, make sure to only give cats products like Cosequin joint supplement for cats that are specially engineered for them. Many supplements that support joint health for dogs and cats come in capsule form and can easily be taken with food. They work to help your petโ€™s cartilage rebuild, while also fighting inflammation.

See? That wasn't that hard. You now know a lot more about canine and feline arthritis than you did just a few minutes ago. Now go help your pet live the best life they can!

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

Here's the best way to describe the symptoms of arthritis in dogs and cats. Imagine itโ€™s the morning after a killer workout. You get out of bed and start moving, but itโ€™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, youโ€™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 shouldnโ€™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.


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 โ€œget their motor goingโ€ 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.


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 donโ€™t be afraid to get up close and take a good look at your petโ€™s legs to see if there is a clear difference between them.


Another way to test the condition of your petโ€™s joints is whatโ€™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 petโ€™s well-being and quality of life. Thatโ€™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
Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs and Cats
Dog and Cat Arthritis Treatment

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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