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Osteoarthritis in Dogs and Cats

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition which can tend to flare-up during the colder winter months. It affects both cats and dogs and is very common in older animals of both species. Please do not hesitate to contact us if anything you read here seems familiar and you are concerned that your dog or cat may be affected with OA. We can perform a full clinical examination and talk you through all the management and treatment options. The sooner OA is diagnosed, the better the chances are of stabilising the progression of the disease and making your pet’s life more comfortable long term.

Osteoarthritis (OA)—the most common form of arthritis in dogs and cats—is a painful, degenerative disease that affects highly movable joints. The weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, elbows and stifles (knees), are the most susceptible and often the signs are mistaken for old age.


What causes osteoarthritis?

There are many causes, but practically all can be grouped into two main categories:
1. Abnormal stress on normal joints
• An injury that damages a joint
• "Wear and tear": joints are subjected to repeated loads or stress
• Excessive bodyweight: an increased load is put on joints
2. Normal stress on abnormal joints
• Developmental defects that alter the shape or stability of a joint
• Poor limb conformation can cause abnormal loads on joints
• Genetic predisposition: some breeds are just more prone than others

Can osteoarthritis be cured?

Just like the condition in humans, the condition is irreversible and requires life-long management.

Canine Osteoarthritis »

Feline Osteoarthritis »

What is the long term outlook for a pet with osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis may progress very slowly (over several years) or very quickly (you might notice a major change in just a few weeks or months). It all depends on your pet's age, his or her activity level, the joints involved and the underlying cause. Some pets' pain and loss of mobility can be kept to a minimum for long periods of time with a simple regimen of weight control, moderate, regular exercise and the occasional use of anti-inflammatory drugs if flare-ups occur. For others, severe damage to the joints may occur rapidly and require long-term medication and other therapy. In either case, your veterinary surgeon can determine the best course of treatment for your pet's particular condition.

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