Causes of Dog and Cat Arthritis

Causes of Dog and Cat Arthritis
expert or vet photo
vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

Rimadyl (carprofen)

Arthritis & Pain
Quantity: Options:
{{petcare_price|currency}} Price in Cart w/PetPlus {{petplus_price|currency}} See PetPlus Price in Cart

Arthritis can be caused by a number of issues and can be diagnosed with certain tests. Find out what causes arthritis in dogs and cats.

Arthritis in dogs and cats can have a number of causes, ranging from old age to a previous condition like hip dysplasia. Knowing what causes arthritis can help you be on the look out for when your pet first starts to develop arthritis. Catching the disease early is key. Several cartilage rebuilding medicines work better the sooner your pet begins taking them. Here is a brief rundown of what could be causing your pet’s discomfort.  

Old Age

The most common cause of arthritis is simply your pet getting older. Throughout their life, the cartilage on your pet’s bones wears down as they live an active pet lifestyle. All that ball chasing, jumping, and running puts a lot of strain on their joints. Years of these motions damage the cartilage that made it possible for them to move so freely. That’s not to say that being active leads to your pet getting arthritis. It’s just that eventually your active, playful pet gets old, and when they do, their joints get old, too.

Your pet’s body will try to repair its damaged cartilage, but as time goes on, these natural repairs become more and more haphazard and will end up causing pain, inflammation, and stiffness. As your pet becomes older, the cartilage does not repair as well, leaving them to suffer from conditions like arthritis.

Previous Conditions

If your pet has suffered from joint pain or conditions like hip dysplasia or a ruptured cruciate ligament in their youth, then there’s a good chance they will suffer from arthritis later in life. Such damage accumulates over time, and it all adds up to painful and damaged joints that keep your pet from enjoying life like they should.

That’s not to say there is an age limit for arthritis. Unlucky pets can suffer from arthritis when they are younger if they have damaged their joints through conditions or injuries.  


It’s simple. If your dog is overweight, then they put more of a strain on their joints. In many cases, their joints are not built to hold that extra weight, which leads to the cartilage wearing down.

Additionally, larger dogs suffer from arthritis more than small dogs. But remember, an overweight small dog can still damage their joints to the point they begin to suffer from arthritis. In the end, an overweight dog of any size is more likely to get arthritis than a fit and trim dog.

Diagnosing Dog and Cat Arthritis

Your veterinarian can use a few different procedures to diagnose your pet with arthritis. First and foremost, they will listen to you talk about your dog’s symptoms. They then will most likely put your dog through a physical examination, in which they take note of how your dog's joints respond as your pet moves around. Other options for determining if your pet has arthritis are taking x-rays of their joints and taking a sample of your pet’s joint fluid with a needle for analysis.

Now that you know what can cause arthritis, you need to learn how to tell if your pet is suffering from the condition. Read our next section to find out what symptoms your pet will show if they have arthritis.

Related Articles

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs and Cats
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.

Was this article helpful?
Hip Dysplasia Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)
comments powered by Disqus

You May Also Like

Image for Arthritis in Dogs and Cats 101
Arthritis in Dogs and Cats 101

Your Guide to Causes, Symptoms and Treatments of Pet Arthritis

Read More
Image for Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs and Cats
Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

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

Read More