Maintaining your pet’s flexibility and mobility makes for a happier, healthier animal and better-quality time for you and your pet! Just as we stiffen with age, so do our pets. Our beloved pets can suffer from paralyzing ailments though old age, accidental injuries or from a genetic predisposition. If your pet is showing difficulty with mobility or flexibility, observe their behaviour to rule out early trauma such as a sore leg or limp resulting from an accident.
Your pet’s joints and mobility – did you know?
A one-year-old puppy is as physically developed as a 15-year-old teenager.
Obesity in dogs is a leading contributor to any joint pain they suffer.
Not exercising your pet can lead to stiffness and joint discomfort.
Laying on hard surfaces (tiles and wooden floors) can increase joint pain and stiffness in your pet.
Arthritis is a painful, degenerative disease that affects about 1 in 5 older dogs.
Teaching puppies to stand on their back legs can lead to abnormal development of hips.
Overfeeding your puppy increases their growth but also leads to stress on their joints.
What causes mobility problems in cats and dogs?
Obesity puts extra weight on your pet’s joints, which affect its mobility.
Traumatic injuries can result in joint instability.
Wear and tear caused from such simple activities as walking, running and jumping.
Strenuous or repetitive activities, or unfit dogs engaging in sudden strenuous, irregular activity (e.g. weekend warriors).
Lack of proper bone development in young pets, particularly dogs.
Five common joint problems for dogs
- Arthritis In Dogs
Arthritis is a general term for abnormal changes in the joints, which occur when cartilage (which cushions and protects the bones) is worn away faster than it can be replaced, resulting in swollen and painful joints.
Symptoms of arthritis include favouring a limb, difficulty in sitting or standing, sleeping more, seeming stiff, hesitancy to jump or run, weight gain, licking the afflicted area and lagging behind on walks.
Early treatment is key.
Medium to large dog breeds are at greater risk.
Hip dysplasia may result when your pet suffers from arthritis.
A variety of treatment options for arthritis in dogs exist
Hip Dysplasia In Dogs (Abnormal Development)
Hip Dysplasia directly affects a dog’s hip joints – the bone structure that holds a dog’s body together with its hind limbs.
This condition starts during a dog’s growing stages. It leads to improperly developed hip joints, which operate abnormally, result in improper alignment and lead to wearing of the bones and arthritis.
Joint Degeneration Ocd In Dogs (Osteochondritis Dissecans)
Osteochondritis is an abnormal development of the cartilage on the end of a bone in the joint. It occurs when the diseased cartilage separates from the underlying bone and most commonly affects the shoulder joint, although the elbow, hip, or knee may also be involved.
Ligament Injury In Dogs
Ligament injury is one of the most common causes of hind limb lameness in animals and is extremely painful. The ligament connects the bones above and below the knee and essentially stabilises the knee joint. A tear or rupture leads to joint swelling, pain and instability in the knee joint. If left untreated it will cause lameness in the affected rear leg and chronic irreversible degenerative joint changes.
Luxating Patella In Dogs
When the structures that make up your pet’s knees are misaligned or misshapen, a problem called ‘trick knee’ or patellar luxation often occurs. Ask our pet experts for more information.
Types of joint problems in cats
Mobility problems in cats are very common, with approximately 4 out of 5 cats aged 12 years and over experiencing joint problems. The joint cartilage wears away faster than it can be replaced, which gives your cat pain and reduces its mobility.
Signs of mobility problems for your cat
If your cat has joint problems, the first thing you will notice is a reduced ability or willingness to jump up or down from heights, increased sleep, difficulty going up or down stairs, problems negotiating the litter box and poor grooming. Your cat will also purr less and won’t interact with you as much. The most common joint problems suffered by cats include Osteoarthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease.
What causes joint problems in cats?
Age – This is much more common in older cats.
Excess weight – Obesity in cats puts increased stress on affected joints.
Accidents and damage – Cats are very agile pets that enjoy climbing and jumping. Over time, the stress put on their joints may contribute to deterioration in cartilage.
Breed and genetics – Some breeds of cats may be more likely to develop joint problems through imperfect joints. For example Persian, Siamese and Himalayan cats are more prone to develop hip dysplasia.
Keep your pet healthy and in good physical condition – prevention is better than cure!
Join health for dogs and cats is important. Well-conditioned pets are better able to avoid injuries, because their joints and bones are protected from potential risks by strong surrounding muscles.
You can help them with:
Weight management and a good diet.
Giving your pet regular, moderate exercise.
Being smart with exercise: just like humans – not too little and not too much. Remember to warm-up your dog’s muscles before they exercise, and then warm-down afterwards.
If you think your cat or dog might be suffering with joint or hip problems, bring them into local vet for a check.