Arthritis in Cats and Dogs – How to Manage it

Arthritis in Pets

If your cat or dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, you’ll no doubt want to know how you can make life easier for them. There are lots of things you can do at home to alleviate some of their discomfort.

The most common form of arthritis in cats and dogs is osteoarthritis. More often seen in older pets, osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition where the cartilage surrounding the joints progressively deteriorates. Over time, this results in irreversible changes to the structure of the joint as well as that of the surrounding bone.

You may have already agreed on a treatment plan with your vet, but there are also some changes that you can make to your home and your pet’s lifestyle to help manage their condition.

Here are our top tips to ensure your cat or dog maintains a good quality of life despite their arthritis.

Adapt Your Home

Hardwood, laminate or tile floors can cause your pet to slip and fall. This increases the chance of unexpected aches and pains. Placing secure rugs and foam mats in the areas where your pet walks can give them the footing they need to get around safely.

If your pet is struggling to reach their favourite spots in your home, like the sofa, bed or windowsill, consider investing in cat ladders or dog ramps. This will enable them to climb without the need of a big jump or leap.

Ensure Your Pet Can Rest Comfortably

If your pet’s sleeping area isn’t already soft and padded, making it so can help their joints to feel less painful. There are beds available that are specially designed to help dogs who need extra support. Memory foam beds mould to your dog’s body, providing warmth and optimum comfort.

It’s important to keep arthritic pets comfortably warm as the cold can make the symptoms of arthritis more pronounced. Having said this, some arthritic dogs prefer to lay on something cool to help soothe soreness. Often they might gravitate towards hard floors for this, but hard flooring can stiffen the joints too. You could therefore consider using a cooling mat to soothe the pain, and encourage your pet to sit on it somewhere warm.

Keep Your Pet’s Nails Short

Having long claws can increase the pressure exerted on your pet’s paws as they walk and stand. Walking on hard surfaces naturally files them down. But if your pet is unable to exercise as much as they would like, it’s important to clip them to keep them nice and short. You can ask your vet or a professional groomer to help with this.

Keep Up Activity and Exercise

It’s always good to keep your pet’s weight under control. This is even more important for dogs or cats with arthritis. Being overweight can put extra pressure on their joints and this can further affect their mobility.

Gentle, regular exercise can help to keep joints a bit more flexible and supple. Don’t be afraid to continue with regular walks if your dog has arthritis. Just be mindful that you may need to adjust the distance of the walk to suit your dog’s capability. If you usually take your dog out for one long walk a day, try multiple short and slow walks.

Having a supportive harness can also help to make walks easier by helping your dog to walk more steadily. Even better, try using a sling. The simplest version of this is to use a towel under your dog’s belly. Hold it close to their hind legs to help lift them as they walk.

If your dog can tolerate it, try walks up and down hills as this will help to increase overall strength.
Hydrotherapy is a very good way of exercising dogs without putting as much pressure on the joints. For dogs with more severe arthritis, this could be at a hydrotherapy centre with a therapist. Veterinary physiotherapists can help with targeted exercises as well as massages for these patients. Other dogs could go swimming locally in dog swimming pools, lakes or slow moving rivers.

Feed Your Pet a Suitable Arthritis Diet

Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to reduced inflammation. Most diets specifically for cats and dogs with arthritis will contain a good amount of these, along with other ingredients that can help with joint health. Diets such as Hill’s Science Plan Healthy Mobility and Royal Canin Mobility are formulated to ease movement and contain nutrients that contribute to healthy bones and joints. Other diets your vet might recommend include the Purina Pro Plan Joint Mobility Veterinary Diet, and the Eukanuba Joint Mobility Veterinary Diet. Always check with your vet first before changing your pet’s diet.

Veterinary Diets

Consider Arthritis Supplements

There are supplements available that contain key ingredients that are known to be beneficial for cats and dogs with arthritis. We recommend that you discuss the addition of supplements with your vet to ensure they are suitable for your pet. Some arthritis supplements that could benefit your cat or dog include:

Flexadin Plus Chews is a nutritional supplement that supports joint health in dogs and cats. It combines the benefits of vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, and Harpagophytum procumbens (also known as devil’s claw), a medicinal plant traditionally used to relieve joint pain.

Seraquin tablets contain glucosamine and chondroitin which can help to slow down the progression of osteoarthritis (OA). They do this by providing building blocks to stimulate the joints’ auto-repairing capacity. This slows down the progression of the degenerative joint disease. Seraquin is uniquely different to other joint supplements because of the inclusion of curcuminoids. These are potent, natural antioxidants that have a direct effect on the degradation of cartilage caused by oxidative stress.

YuMOVE Joint Supplement is a clinically proven triple-action joint supplement for cats and dogs that aids stiff joints, helps mobility and supports joint structure. YuMOVE is formulated with ActivEase® Green Lipped Mussel containing four times more active Omega 3 than standard competitor versions.

MOVOFLEX joint supplements for dogs are very tasty soft chews that are suitable for all sizes of dog. They may help to relieve irritated, achy and inflamed joints using a unique blend of ingredients.

Does your pet have arthritis or have you previously had a pet with the condition? What other tips would you suggest to help to make things better for them? Let us know in the comments section below.