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Can I Prevent Osteoarthritis in my Pet?

Stories from HART

Can I Prevent Osteoarthritis in my Pet?

Sarah Myers



Osteoarthritis is the most conventional type of arthritis in dogs. It actually affects a quarter of the dog population. Osteoarthritis results from loss of articular cartilage that covers and protects the ends of the bones in the joints. New bone formation around the joint can also occur. This is due to the increase of instability and inflammation inside the joints. This is painful for dogs. This disease occurs due to developmental orthopedic diseases affecting the hips, elbow, and stifle. Osteoarthritis can be influenced by genetics, age, bodyweight, gender, exercise, diet, and obesity.

It is important to know what to look for if your dog is at risk for osteoarthritis. When observing your pet, look for the reluctance to exercise, little to no activity, inability to jump, aggression, and general signs of pain. If any of these signs are spotted, you should call us at the Bredel Clinic. It is important to get a diagnosis in order to treat your pet and make him as comfortable as possible. We will use a series of tests to diagnose your dog -- usually physical exams, X-rays, MRI, or CT scans. After being diagnosed, your dog can be treated.

Treatments often include anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medications, injections, weight modifications, joint supplements, and/or surgery. Note that these treatments are not to cure osteoarthritis. This disease is chronic and will continue to worsen over time. The treatments will, however, help your dog be more comfortable and live an easier life.

Since osteoarthritis has a number of influences including genetics, age, and gender, osteoarthritis cannot be prevented. As a good parent, we can only monitor our pet’s weight and try to keep him as healthy as possible. Read more in our “How do I know if my Pet is Overweight?” article.


Osteoarthritis in cats is harder to diagnose and is often under-diagnosed. When the cartilage wears away, bone is exposed and unprotected which leads to pain and inflammation. Like osteoarthritis in dogs, it can cause new bone formation around the joints in cats. This is also very painful for cats. This disease can’t be identified and is not as understood as osteoarthritis in dogs, however. The joints affected in cats are hips, elbow, stifle, and tarsus.

Cats can be apprehensive when being held. This makes it harder to examine them for osteoarthritis; however, there are tests to diagnose this disease. These tests assess the mobility of your cat. During the tests, your cat will be encouraged to walk from one side of the room to the other. They will also be placed on a chair and be coaxed to jump down to the floor and jump into their carrier. If your cat is unwilling to jump, this could be due to pain.

Just like dogs, diagnosing osteoarthritis in cats takes a physical exam and x-rays. Treatment for cats is similar to treatment for dogs, but also includes environmental adjustments and physical therapy. It also helps to minimize stressful situations for your cat.

Again, as with dogs, osteoarthritis in cats cannot be prevented. Factors such as genetics and age do not discriminate. If you observe any changes in your cat or dog and they show signs of osteoarthritis or pain, don’t hesitate to call us at the Bredel Veterinary Clinic.