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Osteoarthritis in dogs Part 1

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease affecting the cartilage of the joints. It has been estimated that 1 in 5 dogs will be diagnosed within their lifetime with osteoarthritis. If your dog is having difficulty getting up, tires easily, seems stiff or is sleeping more than they used to, osteoarthritis may be the culprit. Of course many other issues can cause similar signs, so it is important to book a visit with your mobile vet, who will be able to assess your dog in their home environment.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can vary from animal to animal, key signs to look out for that may suggest the signs of arthritis include:

• Inactivity or increased sleeping

• Lameness, limping and stiffness

• Reluctance to walk or showing difficulty climbing stairs

• Unexplained weight loss

• Unusual urinating in the house

• Changes in behaviour including irritability

The symptoms described can develop slowly, and it is easy to accept that they are general signs of your pet aging. It is important to remember that osteoarthritis is a sufferable pain that can be treated and managed easily and improve the quality of life for your pet. Your home visit vet will be able to discuss the many treatment options available to help reduce your pets discomfort and increase their quality of life.

What causes osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage around the bones of the joints is worn down and deteriorates over time. With the loss of cartilage, friction can occur between the bones resulting in pain and discomfort and decreased mobility. Arthritis can occur in any joint within the body but is most common in the elbows, knees, wrists, lower back and hips. Your mobile vet can carry out an examination to help identify affected joints and address any other concerns you may have.

Ageing and exercise can exacerbate osteoarthritis related symptoms in older dogs. Senior pets, large breed dogs and working dogs are more likely to develop osteoarthritis, although it can occur in any breed. Though less common, osteoarthritis can be present in younger patients, causes can vary from inherited or growth disorders such as hip dysplasia or patella luxation, and trauma related injury such as fracture or ligament injury.


As an owner, it is important to monitor any changes in your pet and keep a record of when they happened and let your mobile vet know. This could include lameness, stiffness and changes in mobility. From here the vet will have a comprehensive history and establish the next course of action. If indicated, radiographs may be recommended as diagnosis, which could be done at your preferred vet hospital. From here, our vet will create a tailored treatment plan for your pet.

There are a variety of treatment options available to help pets suffering from osteoarthritis. In the next blog, we will run you through some of the options our home visit vet may recommend for your pet.


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