Arthritis is a disease found in both cats and dogs and is especially common in dogs. It can affect pets of all ages but is more common in seniors. Arthritis is defined as the inflammation of one or more joints, usually accompanied by pain, swelling and stiffness.
Arthritis occurs when the cartilage layer covering the bones is eroded and the ends of the bones rub together, causing inflammation. The body responds to constant inflammation by developing osteophytes, or bone spurs, around the margin of the joint. The joint fluid becomes thin and less slippery, and bone-on-bone contact causes pain with movement.
The primary symptom of arthritis is disability. Dogs will limp, become less active or be sometimes slow to rise or slow to lie down. Some may be restless when sleeping or be reluctant to go for walks. These are all signs of pain. Sometimes owners don’t think the pet is in pain because they are not crying, but dogs and cats will not cry until pain is severe.
Cats also show few specific symptoms of arthritis. Most commonly they just become less active, which is often attributed to laziness or age by their owners. They may also be hesitant to jump on furniture or less likely to use the deep litter boxes that have higher sides. In fact, these are signs of pain and should be managed to keep your pet comfortable.