Arthritis in Your Senior Pet

Senior Dog with Arthritis

Imagine waking up every morning and discovering that when you stretch out your limbs it hurts. You discover that you are a bit stiff in the morning. Going up and down the stairs is the hardest. Only after you receive your medication with your food are you more limber and enjoy walks. This is the reality facing most arthritic dogs and cats.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is where one or more joints become inflamed and swollen. A joint that is inflicted with arthritis can be intensely painful and stiff especially in the morning and during cold damp humid weather. It is a progressive disease which gets worse over time. There are many different types of arthritis and each is the result of a complex series of separate causes.While there are many different symptoms to arthritis, owners with older pets should look for the following signs:

  • Pets who suddenly have difficulty sitting or standing
  • The pet walks stiffly or limps
  • The dog or cat seems to be stiff with sore joints especially in the morning
  • The pet is hesitant to jump, run, or climb stairs
  • Behaviour changes (including increased irritability)

There is no cure for arthritis but comprehensive exams will help your Summeridge Vet detect and treat arthritis before it becomes too painful. Blood tests, x-rays or joint analysis may also be helpful in determining the cause and severity of the arthritis.

What can an owner do to relieve the pet’s discomfort?

  • Lightening the load on the joints may decrease the pain associated with arthritis. If your dog is overweight, then your veterinarian (Summeridge Vet) can recommend a therapeutic diet and an exercise program.
  • Physiotherapy (such as swimming)
  • Providing a padded bed can help reduce the discomfort.
  • A ramp can be placed where there a stairs
  • A step ladder beside the bed can make it easier instead of jumping onto the bed

In addition to providing modification to the home environment, the mainstay for the treatment of arthritis is analgesia. Your Summeridge Vet can help select the best medication for your dog since there are individual differences to how each dog responds to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs. A blood test must be done before starting the medication long-term to make sure there are no adverse effects. Once your dog is doing well on the medication, periodic blood tests are necessary to ensure the continued safety of the medication.

Joint diets are another essential component to making your dog feel better. These joint diets which you can purchase from your Summeridge Vet contain omega-3 fatty acids supplements and glucosamine-chrondroitin sulfate which help dogs suffering from arthritis. The joint diets along with the NSAIDs medication act synergistically to relieve the chronic pain your dog is experiencing from arthritis.

In part 2, we will be talking about arthritis in cats which is often neglected.

If you have any questions, please call us at Summeridge Animal Clinic at 905-731-1225 or visit our website at