Diagnosing Pet Arthritis
As a pet owner, especially if you have an older pet, it's important to be familiar with the first signs and symptoms of arthritis, and understand risk factors for development as well. Your veterinarian will use a combination of techniques including physical exams, medical history, blood tests, and x-rays to correctly diagnose pet arthritis.
Signs and Symptoms of Pet Arthritis
Make an appointment with your vet if you notice any of these signs and symptoms of pet arthritis:
- Reluctance to walk, jump, play or climb stairs
- Reduced hip motion
- Presence of a clicking sound when walking
- Loss of appetite
- Obvious pain, discomfort or tenderness
- Personality changes
- Difficulty rising from a sitting or lying position
Risk Factors for Pet Arthritis
Many factors enhance the overall risk for the development of arthritis:
- Age. Arthritis is more common among adult pets. As the body ages, bone will slowly begin to degrade, leading to the development of arthritic symptoms.
- Breed. The particular breed is very important in reference to certain types of arthritis. Many pets are more genetically likely for the development of arthritis due to inherited genes.
- Gender. Female pets are more likely to develop arthritis than male pets.
- Genetics. Probably the largest risk factor for the development of arthritis, certain breeds are simply more susceptible to arthritis than others.
- Weight. Pets who are overweight or obese are far more likely to develop arthritic symptoms than pets of a healthy weight. Excess weight puts excess stress on the joints and body, which will lead and contribute to arthritis symptoms.
- Exercise. Pets who do not get regular physical exercise are more likely to develop arthritis than pets who do regularly exercise.
Types of Pet Arthritis
Generally arthritis is divided into three categories among pets. The signs and symptoms of arthritis are typically dependent upon the type:
- Infectious Arthritis. Caused by an infection typically isolated to the joints, these infections can be triggered by a variety of agents, including fungal, viral or bacterial.
- Osteoarthritis. The most common type of arthritis in both pets and humans, osteoarthritis is also commonly called degenerative joint disease, as it is caused by the degradation of cartilage in the joints. It is common for older pets to suffer from some degree of osteoarthritis.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis. This autoimmune complication causes the immune system to produce antibodies that cause the destruction of healthy tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis is often associated with the presence of inflammation.
Pet Arthritis: The Diagnosis
Diagnosis of pet arthritis is not possible without the owner first noticing signs and symptoms and bringing it to the attention of the veterinarian. Your veterinarian will confirm that arthritis is the cause through the use of blood tests and x-rays, in addition to a physical exam and examination of your pet's medical history. Although this is not widely understood, our pets are just as susceptible to the development of certain conditions and diseases as humans are. Arthritis is only one clear example of this. It is up to you and your veterinarian to decide on the best methods of treatment once your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis.
Photo Credit: Yukari