Q & A: Signs of arthritis

Q: What are the first signs of arthritis in cats and dogs?

A: Arthritis can be described as the progressive degeneration of cartilage. Cartilage is a firm but flexible connective tissue that acts as a cushion to allow joints to move smoothly. Arthritis is one of the most common diseases in middle-aged to senior animals.

Often the first signs of arthritis can be subtle. Animals suffering from arthritis will often show a change in their behaviour and might even be irritable or aggressive when approached or touched. You might notice that your pet is reluctant to move and can even be stiff or lame after exercise or prolonged rest, for example appearing stiff or lame when getting up from his bed in the morning, which becomes less noticeable as he ‘warms up’ by moving around. Cats might often become reluctant to jump onto countertops or other high areas which they previously did effortlessly. Some pet owners notice their animal excessively licking or chewing at their painful joints, often leaving bald spots or sores over these areas.

Dr Johan Jordaan, veterinarian

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