Arthritis and Your Pet

One of the most common aliments seen in pets is arthritis. Arthritis is a progressive and degenerative condition that affects one or more joints.


Our pets are often very stoic, making it difficult to tell when they are hurting. Arthritis affects the joints making certain movements and positions very painful. Also areas near the arthritic joint are often very sensitive to touch. The most common symptoms include:

  • Stiffness
  • Swollen joints
  • Limp or lameness in a limb
  • Difficulty getting down to, or up from a lying position
  • Pain or discomfort from various positions
  • Areas sensitive to the touch
  • Hesitancy to run, jump, or climb stairs


The most common causes of arthritis are:

  • Aging
  • Bone fracture involving a joint
  • Cartilage erosion
  • Dislocation
  • Immune system disorder
  • Inherited condition – like hip dysplasia
  • Joint infection
  • Ligament, tendon, or muscle injury
  • Obesity

How is it Diagnosed?

Arthritis is diagnosed through x-rays of the joints. X-rays will show bone spurs where the ligament and joint capsule attach to the bone. They will also show any narrowing of the joint spacing and increased density of bone around the joint.

What Can Be Done?

While arthritis is incurable there are treatments that can help improve your pets quality of life. Primary treatments include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Weight control (removes extra stress from joints and ligaments)
  • Analgesics (pain relievers)
  • Corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory)

How To Make Your Pet More Comfortable

Hard surfaces are painful for sore joints. Also certain movements can be very painful (i.e. running, jumping, and climbing stairs.) Here are a few ways to make your pet more comfortable in their daily routine:

  • An orthopedic mattress will support joints in a soft yet secure way
  • Raising food and water bowls will help reduce strain
  • Regular grooming helps keep hard to reach areas clean
  • Ramps to help get in/out of cars or rooms with a couple of steps eliminate the need to jump or climb stairs
  • Short and gentle exercise sessions not only help keep your pet in shape while reducing strain they also help keep you engaged with your pet


Your veterinarian can help you diagnosis, develop a treatment plan, and determine if there are further underlying issues. A mobile veterinarian can come to your home and perform a complete exam including x-rays, and an environmental review to help determine ways to make your pet more comfortable. In the greater Keizer and Salem, Oregon area you can always rely on Rolling Vet Animal Care or (503) 400-7992.

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