Arthritis: Is Your Pet Slowing Down?

Have you noticed that your senior pet is slowing down?

Are they having trouble getting going and seem stiff in the morning?

Are they more reluctant to jump up and down off couches or beds?

These are the signs that your older dog or cat may be developing arthritis.  Arthritis is the degeneration of the protective covering of joints, called cartilage. It is a change that occurs as your pet ages due to wear and tear from normal activity or a previous injury. Normally, healthy cartilage covers the end of the bones in joints and allows for smooth motion during movement and acts as a shock absorber. When damage occurs to the cartilage, the result is inflammation. The cartilage can start to thin and wear, allowing the bones of the joint to come into contact. This results in pain and difficulty moving for the animal. The most commonly affected joints are the hips, elbows, shoulders and knees.

 Here are some things that can help your pet’s joints:

Weight loss can help pets with arthritis since it helps reduce the weight that their sore joints have to carry around. A healthy weight can reduce the additional wear and tear and can allow for a healthier, active lifestyle. Increasing the amount of gentle exercise, such as leash walks or swimming, and decreasing the amount of calories that they are eating can help your pet lose weight. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are components of normal cartilage. These supplements could help the body repair and rebuild cartilage that is damaged. They may also help produce more joint fluid which helps cushion the joints from impact. These are available as supplements or as components of treats.Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, found in fish oils, have natural anti-inflammatory effects. They also have the added benefit of helping your pet have a healthy skin and coat. These are also available as supplements.Some diets such as Royal Canin Mobility Support, Purina JM and Hill’s j/d, are designed to help pets with arthritis. They have glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and omega fatty acids included in their recipe to help your pet’s joints with every bite. They are also lower in calories, which can help your pet lose weight.Prescription medications can be used for long-term management of more advanced arthritis. They are anti-inflammatories and control pain. We recommend discussing these options with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may recommend running bloodwork to look at your pet’s general organ health before considering use of these medications.


If you are worried about arthritis in your pet, please speak with your veterinarian. They will be happy to make recommendations that work best for you and your pet.

To book an appointment with a veterinarian call one of our Horizon Veterinary Hospitals:

Forest Lawn Veterinary Hospital              403-272-0115

Marlborough Veterinary Hospital            403-273-4664

McKenzie Towne Animal Clinic                 403-257-6105

Riverbend Animal Clinic                              403-279-8747


Article by:  Michelle Hasiuk,   Veterinary Student, University of Calgary,  Class of 2015