How can I recognise if my pet has osteoarthritis?

It’s tempting to think that our beloved dog or cat is getting slower, sleeping more, and less active due to old age. We all know that old age is not a disease, but osteoarthritis is.

Chances are your pet is probably just too sore to run, fetch the ball and jump around as they used to. Inside, their inner kitten and puppy might just be bursting to get out!

As 26% of New Zealand’s 700 000 pet dog population are 8 years old or over, it’s likely that many of them are suffering from undiagnosed arthritis, as global studies have shown a high proportion of senior pets have joint issues. Kiwi’s love their cats too, and currently there are approximately 1.1 million pet cats in NZ, many in their senior years, as 22% are 11 years old and over.

Osteoarthritis is a debilitating disease whereby pain and stiffness develop as a result of wear and tear on the joints. Cartilage reduces stress on bones by acting like a shock absorber, minimizing impact on joints. When cartilage is damaged, inflammatory changes occur, eventually leading to destruction of the cartilage and subsequent damage of the underlying bone; joints become painful causing lameness. These changes are not curable, but you can lessen the pain and inflammation associated with them.

Is your cat or dog showing any of these signs?

  • Difficulty jumping on and off the bed/sofa/surfaces

  • Difficulty getting in and out of the car

  • Difficulty going up and down stairs

  • Slowing down on walks, especially going up or down slopes

  • Reluctance to play, go for a walk, lacking energy

  • Limping or stiffness

  • Licking a single joint frequently (pain)

  • Change in character or getting grumpy

  • Reluctance to be patted or picked up

What can you do to help your pet? Calling Vet Clinic Morrinsville to book a health check is a great place to start. An examination by a vet can be enough to indicate where your pet is sore, and often a vet can diagnose arthritis with a thorough exam. The vet may then prescribe you a course of injections, pain relief tablets and/or recommend a joint supplement such as Bomazeal® Mobilize.


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