What is it, what are the symptoms, and how can we treat it?

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“Achy old bones” are unfortunately common in both humans and our four-legged friends. Usually when we use that phrase we are referring to arthritis, which is a complex condition involving the inflammation of one or more joints. There are many causes of arthritis, but in the case of your furbaby, it’s likely related to age. If you’re concerned about your furry family member experiencing newfound stiffness, or want to learn more about keeping a long time sufferer comfortable, read on!

Arthritis can be classified as primary arthritis, as in rheumatoid arthritis, and secondary arthritis, which occurs as a result of joint instability, that leads to damage of the subchondral bone that line the joints. Secondary arthritis is the most common form diagnosed in pets, feline and canine alike, and the most common type is osteoarthritis (OA), which is also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). Some common causes of secondary arthritis include hip dysplasia, obesity, cranial cruciate ligament rupture, joint infection and others.

The first kind of arthritis we mentioned above, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is an immune-mediated, erosive, inflammatory condition. Cartilage and bone are eroded within affected joints and the condition can progress to complete joint fixation (ankylosis). RA may affect single or multiple joints (polyarthritis). In some cases, RA factors can be detected through blood tests. There are other types of immune-mediated arthritis that are non-erosive, such as arthritis that is associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Be sure to ask your vet what you can anticipate in the years to come for your pet.

Infective or septic arthritis can be caused by a variety of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Septic arthritis normally only affects a single joint and the condition results in swelling, fever, and heat as well as pain in the joint. Symptoms of septic arthritis in pets often include lack of appetite and depression. The latter two symptoms are characteristic of other conditions as well, so if you observe them please consult your vet as soon as you get a chance.

Regardless of the type of arthritis, early detection is ideal for the health and comfort of your pet. That’s why we put together comprehensive Wellness Plans for dogs and cats. But, you might wonder what treatment looks like in the first place.

It’s natural to be a little confused when you pet has arthritis, especially if the onset has been recent. But, treatment is available and it’s only getting better! Analgesics such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common form of treatment for osteoarthritis. It is important to select these medications with care since some dogs and cats are more sensitive than others to the potential side-effects of analgesics. The most common side-effects of analgesics include decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Premedication blood tests must be performed to make sure that your pet can safely metabolize and eliminate the medication. After the medications are first administered, more periodic blood tests will be necessary to ensure continued safe usage. You and your pet will be able to relax once you take advantage of these options!

Immune mediated and rheumatoid arthritis are usually treated with high doses of corticosteroids, often with dramatic improvement. The control of these conditions often involves the long-term use of corticosteroids and other drugs such as immunosuppressive or cytotoxic agents. This course of treatment is completely normal and while there may be side effects, your pet will get relief from the persistent pain of arthritis!

The treatment of septic arthritis involves determining the type of microorganism involved and its antibiotic sensitivity. Antibiotics are usually administered for a minimum of a month and analgesics (pain relief medications) are required to combat pain and inflammation. We’re confident that your playful pup or curious kitty will return to their old selves in no time after receiving our care.

At our practice, we’ve been happy to use and promote Adequan, an injection that rids pets of pain and enables them to become active once again. Look at some of our reviews on Yelp and Google and you’ll find other pet parents boasting about this treatment for arthritis treatment!

If you have any questions or concerns about arthritis, its symptoms, its treatment, or testing your four-legged friend for it, don’t hesitate to give NOVA Pets a call at (703) 378-9791!

Nova Pets Health Center

3935 Avion Park Court, Suite A102

Chantilly, VA 20151


For general information, questions, appointment requests, call us at:

Clinic: (703) 378-9791
Fax: (703) 997-7786
Email Us: info@novapets.com

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