rthritis, or inflammation of the joints, aﬀects dogs and cats just as it does humans. If lef untreated, the disease can cause irreversible
joint damage, resulting in pain and restricting a pet’s
ability to move or sit comfortably. Because pets,
particularly cats, are good at hiding signs of discomfort,
and because the signs of arthritis can be hard to
distinguish from those of other diseases, arthritis is
likely more common than currently reported.
Management of arthritis largely depends on the
severity of the disease. For mild arthritis, treatment
is usually conservative and may involve lifestyle
changes (e.g., weight loss), anti-inflammatory
medications to treat the pain and inflammation,
moderate exercise, physical therapy, hydrotherapy and
nutritional supplementation. For moderate to severe
arthritis, veterinarians may prescribe more powerful
medications and/or recommend surgery, depending
on the pet’s condition.
• The prevalence of arthritis has increased 38 percent
in dogs and 67 percent in cats over the past fve
• In 2011, 13 percent of geriatric dogs were diagnosed
• Nearly 1 in 4 (22 percent) geriatric large and giant
breed dogs are diagnosed with arthritis.
About 1 in 3 arthritic dogs (40 percent) and cats
(37 percent) were also overweight.
• While arthritis aﬀects pets of all ages, the average age
of dogs diagnosed with arthritis is 9 and the average
age of cats diagnosed with arthritis is 12.
Signs of arthritis
Signs of arthritis vary greatly from dog to cat. Signs
most ofen noticed in dogs can range from a mild
decrease in activity level and stiﬀness when standing
up, to limping, muscle loss, abnormal gait and sitting
positions and reluctance to jump or climb stairs. Signs
in cats are subtle, even with severe arthritis, and may
only involve decreased activity or changes in normal
activity or behavior.
If lef undiagnosed, or untreated, arthritis can
signifcantly impact the overall quality of a pet’s life