Joint pain in pets: symptoms, causes & treatment
June 6, 2019 09:40

During the colder months, joint pain can flare up for many pets. We asked our Absolute Pets vet, Dr Cooper, for her advice on how to tell if your pet is experiencing any pain and what you can do to alleviate any discomfort. Here is the low-down...

Dog with joint pain

How can I tell if my pet is suffering from joint pain?

Unlike humans, it is not always that obvious when a pet is in pain. They will not often cry for help and it’s common for their aches and pains to go unnoticed even by the most dedicated of pet parents. Joint pain is something that doesn’t develop overnight, it's a gradual process but can be very harmful.

Sadly, when it comes to joint pain, by the time it is obvious in your pet their discomfort may already be quite severe. Here are some ways to spot signs of joint pain sooner rather than later.

  • Your pet is less active (they aren’t as mad for their daily walk or quite as obsessive about their scratch post).
  • Your pet is taking more naps and generally not being as energetic.
  • Your pet’s nails grow as they are not being worn down as much by scratching and exercise.
  • Your pet struggles to jump up, particularly after exercise.
  • You start to think your pet is being a little lazy.
  • Your pet takes his or her time to get up.
  • Your pet looks stiff and tender in areas.

What causes joint pain?

Just like a car, wear and tear will at some stage take its toll on your pet’s joints. The pain is caused when the cartilage that lines the joint is damaged and worn away, this causes inflammation and it is this inflammation that hurts so much.

Your vet will be able to diagnose joint pain as arthritis and unfortunately it is not curable, but the good news is that when caught early and managed effectively, the pain is manageable and you can significantly slow down any further degeneration.

Arthritis is most common in the elbow, knee, hip joints and lower back.

What can I do to prevent and treat joint pain?

As always in pet health care, prevention is better than cure. Overweight dogs are more at risk from developing arthritis as their joints are put under more strain, as are pets over seven years of age or those living on a poor diet or not exercising appropriately.

Here are ways to help prevent and treat joint pain:

  • Book an annual or 6-month check-up every year with your vet (especially if your pet is over seven years old). If you catch it early, you can slow down the progression.
  • Make sure your pet is on the very best diet you can afford. A balanced diet will provide him or her with all the nutrition he or she needs to develop healthy joints (as a puppy or kitten) and support the joints’ health as your pet gets older. If your pet is a senior, then pick a diet that is specifically formulated for their age and even breed.
  • Keep your pet at their ideal weight. Studies have shown that a group of dogs suffering from arthritis who lose a few kilograms are in less pain than a group of dogs suffering from arthritis who are given painkillers.
  • Bear in mind the appropriate exercise for your pet. A puppy or senior dog shouldn’t be made to run too far as it puts strain on their joints.

Products that will help prevent or relieve joint pain

Joint pain can be more obvious in the winter months, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist when the temperatures are on the rise. Research points to 60% of cats over the age of 12 suffering from joint problems. When we know our pets are in discomfort, it isn’t enough to accept that they are ‘just getting old’, especially when there are things we can do and fantastic products on the market that can help manage your pet’s joint care.

First and foremost speak to your vet, but also consider:

We hope you find this article helpful in managing your pets health and joint care.

Ask the experts

A huge thank you to Dr Cooper for sharing her expertise with us and helping us put this article together for you.  

And remember, we are also here to help,so visit your local Absolute Pets store or get in touch with us online, or on Facebook.