Dog laying down

Pet owners mistake osteoarthritis pain for normal signs of ageing

Many cat and dog owners could be confusing the symptoms of osteoarthritis for general ageing, or other health issues, new research suggests.

Animal health company Zoetis found that while the majority are aware of osteoarthritis, 27% of dog owners and 28% of cat owners are unlikely to take their pet to the vet when they display common signs of the condition — potentially missing an opportunity to improve how their pets are feeling.

A common condition in both dogs and cats, osteoarthritis causes stiff, painful joints and makes it uncomfortable to move around. The condition is progressive, meaning it gets slowly worse over time, but there are treatments available from your vet and simple changes you can make at home to help make your pet more comfortable.

Signs of osteoarthritis to look for in dogs include tiring earlier on walks, stiffness, limping, being quiet or grumpy, and reluctance to jump or climb stairs.

In cats, you may notice that they have difficulty jumping up and down from high surfaces, spend less time outdoors or playing and hunting, find it harder to use the stairs, cat flap or litter tray, or have matted fur due to difficulty grooming some areas.

“Just like in humans, osteoarthritis is a very common problem in dogs and cats — around 30-50% will be affected at some point in their lives,” said Matt Gurney, vet and president of the European College of Veterinary Anaesthesia & Analgesia. “Osteoarthritis can be very painful for your pet, negatively impacting their physical health and their emotional wellbeing. But there is hope, as there are ways your vet can help reduce the pain and improve their wellbeing.”

Get in touch with your vet if you notice any signs of osteoarthritis in your pet. Older pets also benefit from regular check-ups so your vet can pick up any early signs.

Senior pet insurance from Petwise is tailored to the needs of dogs and cats aged seven years and older, and all levels of cover include access to unlimited video consultations with a fully qualified vet for advice, treatment recommendations and a referral to your local vet, if required.