Arthritis is very common in middle-aged to older pets, but even younger dogs and cats, under certain circumstances, can suffer from arthritic symptoms. Arthritis causes changes within the affected joints that can be very painful for the pet. This pain is responsible for the following signs associated with arthritis.
- Limping is a common sign of pain in limbs. You may see that your pet is favouring one or more of his legs, depending on which legs and joints are hurting. In some cases, the limp may seem worse when your pet first rises and becomes less noticeable as he or she “warms up” by moving around.
- Your pet may exhibit some difficulty moving around. He or she may have become reluctant to do things that was previously easy for he or she to accomplish. For example, Fido may find it hard to get in and out of your car or going up or down the stairs. Cats, on the other hand, may stop jumping on tables, perches or other high areas because of the pain.
- Spinal changes are also a part of arthritis. It can affect various parts of the spine and can usually results in a sore neck, abnormal posture with a “hunch” in the back, or lameness in one or both hind legs.
- You will also notice that your pet appears to tire more easily than before. Your dog may refuse to go on long walks because of the pain and discomfort. Your cat may spend more time sleeping or resting.
- Your arthritic pet may also become more irritable; he or she may snap or bite when approached or handled, especially if the petting or handling exacerbates the pain.
- If left untreated, your arthritic pet could very likely develop muscle atrophy (dying of the muscle tissue) due to inactivity and decreased use of the muscles. A pet with atrophied muscles will have a limb that looks thinner than a normal leg.
- Pain in their joints could also cause the pet to chew, bite or lick the affected areas. This could progress to lick granulomas that could be infected, or inflamed skin and hair loss at affected areas.