Causes of Companion Animal Arthritis

The underlying cause of arthritis is wear and tear of the joint cartilage over time. Cartilage acts as a cushion between bones and helps joints smoothly glide over each other. As pets age, normal cartilage wear accelerates or their immune system may attack the cartilage, leading to its breakdown. Some common causes contributing to arthritis in pets include:

Age-Related Changes
Just as in people, pets are more prone to arthritis as they get older due to years of use taking a toll on their joints. Dogs over 5 years and cats over 7 are at higher risk. Certain breeds like Labradors and German Shepherds are also predisposed to early onset arthritis due to their size and activity levels.

Injury-Linked Arthritis
Previous joint injuries, especially if there was cartilage damage, increase the odds of developing post-traumatic Companion Animal Arthritis later in life. Even minor injuries that may not have seemed serious can initiate osteoarthritis down the road.

Obesity and Weight Issues
Carrying extra pounds puts more stress on weight-bearing joints like hips and elbows. Losing excess weight, through diet and exercise, can help minimize arthritis symptoms and slow disease progression.

Some pets inherit an susceptibility to certain forms of arthritis. For example, Luxating Patella, where the kneecap dislocates, is a congenital problem in small breed dogs.

Symptoms of Companion Animal Arthritis

The most common signs owners notice are:

- Lameness, stiffness or difficulty getting up after rest

- Reluctance to jump, run or climb stairs

- Guarding or limping on a limb

- Swelling or warmth in affected joints

- Change in gait or tendency to walk with a limp

- Restlessness followed by groaning or crying out if touched around sore areas

- In cats, avoiding being picked up or resistance to limb manipulation

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