Arthritis in Cats and Dogs Osteoarthritis (Arthritis) or DJD (Degenerative Joint Disease) is a common illness normally seen in older pets. It is a chronic and degenerative joint disease that makes movement difficult and painful, due to inflammation of the joints. This condition affects the hips, elbows and knees and can be down to wear and tear of the joint. Arthritis can also develop in younger pets if there has been a problem with joint development and could evolve into other joint related conditions. Recognising the signs of Arthritis – what should I look out for? • A decrease in playing or overall activity • Stiffness and slowness in getting up from a lying position • Limping or bunny hopping with the hind legs • Difficulty walking or climbing stairs • Difficulty jumping in to the car, on the bed or sofa • Soreness when the joint is touched If you notice any of the above signs and suspect your cat or dog may have arthritis, you should take them to your vet. Arthritis is a painful condition for pets and unfortunately the damage is irreversible. Early treatment and intervention is critical to slow the progression of the disease and the earlier you start supporting your cat or dog, the more successful you are likely to be. Could my pet be prone to arthritis? Large dog breeds such as Labrador Retrievers or German Shepherds are more prone to develop arthritis. When it comes to cat breeds – Himalayan, Persian and Siamese cats are more prone to develop the disease. If you have a large dog, you can start by providing them with food that is designed for large breeds. This helps to ensure they receive the correct nutritional balance to allow bones and joints to develop at an appropriate rate. Arthritis is much more common in older or obese pets, as it is caused by the years of wear and tear on their joints. What treatments are available? Using several treatments often has a better effect than one treatment on its own. Try and speak to your vet as early as possible as they can tailor treatment to individual cases. Help at home for cats and dogs Ensure you have comfy, soft beds that are easily accessible Use open topped, low edged litter trays Allow access to windowsills and sofas by using ramps or other items as steps to help them sit in their favourite spot Use ramps to help your dog get into the car Keep their bed on the ground floor if you have a large number of stairs to climb Exercise Exercise will help to strengthen the muscles that support joints. Short frequent exercise is most beneficial along with low-impact exercise such as walking. Hydrotherapy can also help to improve joint mobility. Vary your pets exercise regime and take breaks if needed when flare-ups occur. Weight control Cats and dogs with arthritis can sometimes become less active, which can result in weight gain. Maintaining a healthy weight for your pet can help to reduce the pain from arthritic joints and make it easier to move around. Supplements and medication Some pets may not need supplements or medication to help with inflammation, and can be managed with changes to diet and exercise. Your vet can help to tailor the types of medication or supplement your pet needs by assessing them and prescribing a suitable choice. Alternative therapies Laser therapy Acupuncture Hydrotherapy Physiotherapy Massage Insuring your pet from an early age with lifetime cover can help to cover them if they develop a condition that requires ongoing treatment. You can find out more about our dog insurance and cat insurance and compare our policy benefits online.