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Osteoarthritis means inflammation of a joint. When your pet has osteoarthritis , the structures within  joints start to degrade. This includes the cartilage that cushions the two joint surfaces. The joint fluid within the joint will be invaded by cells which cause cartilage degeneration, and as a consequence the joint fluid thins . Once osteoarthritis progresses, bone spurs will form around the joint.  The  inflammation  occurring  leads to pain, which further exacerbates the problem. Arthritis is also known as ‘degenerative joint disease’, as a cascade of problems occur, often simultaneously, resulting in further damage to the joint.

Osteoarthritis may be 

Primary – without an obvious underlying cause, where the disease may arise at least in part to mechanical ‘wear and tear’ in the joints; or

Secondary – to a joint injury or abnormality.

Signs that your pet may have osteoarthritis might include;

  • Stiffness when rising from rest?

  • Resistance to jumping or climbing stairs?

  • Irritability?

  • Lack of interest in walks?

  • Loss of muscle tone in affected limbs?

  • Painfulness or Lameness?

  • Or are they a senior pet?

Osteoarthritis is a progressive and incurable condition . However, many options are available to make life more comfortable for pets with arthritis.

Some of the things which may benefit a pet with arthritis include;

  • Protection from cold- make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep which is off the ground ( raised pet beds are better  than a blanket on the ground ) A warm coat in the middle of winter will also help your elderly pet .

  • Gentle exercise on a daily basis. Encourage gentle exercise such as short walks, as this helps to keep older joints from stiffening up too much and will help to keep your pet active in the long term. Avoid jarring activities such as jumping off furniture or from vehicles. This jarring is more likely to disrupt the bony spurs which form around arthritic joints, and this disruption will be  very painful for your pet. In warmer weather swimming is a wonderful, low impact way to keep your older dog mobile.

  • Weight loss; Weight gain is one of the main factors contributing to joint issues in pets. As your pet gains weight, there will be more pressure and stress placed on your pet’s joints, contributing to  poor joint function and pain; and could further result in arthritis and other joint issues. There are a range of special foods available for your elderly pet which will help them lose weight/  maintain an optimal weight as they age, and some diets are specifically designed to help dogs with joint disease/arthritis. Visit us to discuss what diets are available and how these will benefit your pet. 

  • Dietary Supplements- these are made up of natural ingredients and in some cases are able to slow down and reverse some of the changes seen in the joints of patients with osteoarthritis. One product we have had a lot of success with at Piper Street Veterinary Clinic is 4Cyte. 4Cyte is  a daily joint supplement that helps in promoting healthy joints and joint fluid for your pet. This supplement contains green lipped mussel, marine cartilage, abalone and Epiitalis. 4cyte is currently the only joint supplement to contain Epiitalis which is a plant seed oil.   This plant seed oil is patented for its ability to repair cartilage and pain relieving properties. 4Cyte is available for use in  dogs, cats and horses.

  • Anti-inflammatory medications - as osteoarthritis progresses in your pet, you may find that the above are not enough to keep them comfortable. This is when a visit to the vet clinic may be necessary. We will perform a health check, offer you blood tests to assess kidney and liver function and then we can discuss the different types of anti inflammatory medications which can be used  to help keep  your pet comfortable.  


If you would like to discuss osteoarthritis and the treatment options available further, please  call us to schedule an appointment with one of our vets.

Image by Simon Hurry
Image by Alicia Gauthier
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