Pets are a wonderful part of many families and for the majority of pet owners. So, when our feline and canine companions begin to suffer from arthritis, it is important to know what to do to help them get relief. Arthritis in pets is common but thankfully the veterinarian teams at Animal Hospital of Loves Park can help!

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What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a common ailment that affects the joints of the body and causes the cartilage to break down and deteriorate. Cartilage is a slippery substance that covers all joints in the body and is what allows them to move smoothly and freely as the body moves. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage of a particular joint becomes damaged; the most common sites for this being the knees, hips, shoulder, hands, and spine or neck. Eventually, an arthritic joint becomes so damaged that the joint is painful, it becomes hard to move, the bones rub together, and nerve damage can occur. There are over 100 different types of arthritis seen in humans and pet arthritis is also surprisingly common, especially among dogs and cats.

Common Types of Arthritis in Pets

Osteoarthritis is by and large the most common form of arthritis seen in veterinary clinics and animal hospitals. It is essentially caused by normal aging and wear and tear over the years but can also be the result of an injury to a particular joint. Osteoarthritis generally occurs in the larger weight-bearing joints but can affect smaller joints as well.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the second type of arthritis seen in pets and occurs when the body’s own immune system mistakes healthy normal cells for an invading toxin. This causes the body to in essence attack itself and damages its own healthy tissues. It’s a type of autoimmune disorder and can cause rapid deterioration and extreme pain in the joints.

Symptoms of Arthritis to Look For

Symptoms of arthritis are not always easy to pick up at first because early warning signs can often be mistaken for other less serious but very common conditions. Here are some signs to look out for if you are worried about arthritis in pets who share your home:


For a dog or cat with arthritis, they may start to favor one limb or paw. If this continues and there’s no sign of injury or other cause for the limping, arthritis may be likely.

Reduced mobility

Arthritic joints hurt and this can cause your pet to now want to move as much. Cats may not be as graceful or balanced and dogs may not run or jump as much as they used to.

Abnormal posture

Arthritis affects major joints including hips and spine. So, if your dog or cat suddenly starts sitting or laying in odd positions they never have before it could be a warning sign.

Reduced activity

Animals suffering from arthritis in their joints often become tired more easily. For dogs, walks may become shorter and cats may not want to play as much as they had before.

Abnormal grooming

Changes in grooming habits can go both ways. A dog may lick or bite at painful joints and cats may stop grooming due to aching joints. So, be mindful of these kinds of changes.

Changes in temperament

When pets are in pain, they act differently from when they are not in pain. Pets that no longer want to be held, petted, or played with when they did before may have arthritis developing.

Muscle atrophy

Muscle atrophy is the fancy word used to describe when there is a decrease in the mass of muscles. This can be partial or a complete wasting away and is common with arthritic pets.

Schedule an Appointment Today!

To learn more and to get your furry family member the best possible care, contact Animal Hospital of Loves Park today and let us help your pet with arthritis today!