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Osteoarthritis Can Happen To Pets! Here’s What You Need To Know.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that causes inflammation and degeneration within the joints.
a cat's joint of its legs

You may have noticed changes in your pet — they are getting slower in their movements, they get tired easily on walks and have become reluctant to jump on the couch to join you… Before you start thinking that this is part and parcel of your pet’s aging, consider Osteoarthritis. 

What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?

OA is a progressive disease that causes inflammation and degeneration within the joints. Like in humans, OA in animals has no single cause and can be attributed to many factors such as body conformation, weight, previous injuries, high impact activity over the years or any history of orthopaedic surgery. 

All these factors can have a role in osteoarthritis over time, but old age is not one of them. That tells us that while OA happens more commonly in older pets, the disease does not happen because of aging.

What are some signs of Osteoarthritis in pets?

Early diagnosis is often the saving grace for pets with OA, so as a responsible pet parent, you should always keep an eye out for these possible symptoms: 

  • Difficulty getting up and down from a resting position
  • Walking in a stiff manner
  • Reluctance in elaborate movement, such as going up or down the stairs, jumping up or down from higher ground — for instance, furniture and vehicles
  • Signs of discomfort or pain when touched on some parts of their body
  • Lowered stamina, such as tiring easily on walks
  • Limping in one or more legs

If you notice one or more of these symptoms persisting in your pet, it may warrant a visit to the vet to rule out OA or get them the help they need!

What can I do if my pet is diagnosed with Osteoarthritis?

While there is no cure for OA, the good news is that many pet owners can adequately manage it so that their furry friends can still live a long, healthy life with the diagnosis. The key here is to help your pet stay as comfortable as possible in their function and movements, while minimising pain. 

Your first step should be to work with a vet who is familiar with your pet’s condition. This means scheduling regular appointments to monitor their progress and prescribe treatment as needed. 

Some common strategies for dealing with OA in pets include:

  • Weight loss plans to reduce burden on the joints
  • Regular exercise in moderation
  • Health supplements such as anti-inflammatory Antinol
  • Pain management prescriptions from your vet
  • Consistent physiotherapy
  • Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and laser therapy to help restore movement abilities

Beyond veterinary and physical rehabilitation options, there are also simple modifications you can make at home to help maximise your pet’s comfort levels. It’s important to note that pets diagnosed with OA are generally unsuited for outdoor living due to the varying conditions. 

For starters, use slip-free flooring in areas where your pet is often roaming or resting. These will make it easier for them to get up and move around. 

Meanwhile, their sleeping surfaces should be made more comfortable — orthopaedic or memory foam beds will be ideal. Paw-rents who have the habit of sleeping with their pets, especially if it’s in air-conditioned rooms, may want to consider doing away with this. It’s best for your pet with OA to be in warm and dry environments.

Many pet parents with OA-diagnosed furkids also use raised water and food bowls to relieve back pain and make mealtimes more enjoyable. If there are things at home that may be too high for your pet to reach, such as the sofa or bed, consider using ramps or steps that can increase accessibility and put less of a strain on their limbs.

Is there a silver lining? 

Yes! It may be overwhelming to watch your pet get diagnosed with osteoarthritis, but despite its inconveniences, OA is far from a death sentence. There are many ways to manage it and help your pet enjoy quality life with OA.

Try our free arthritis online self-assessment today to stay in check with the possibility of your pet having osteoarthritis and immediately get tailored recommendations and personalised follow-ups to help them manage the condition at zumvet.com now!

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