Osteoarthritis in animals

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VET’S VOICE

OSTEOARTHRITIS (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is a debilitating disorder that can affect many animal species.

In dogs, osteoarthritis commonly causes joint dysfunction with stiffness, loss of mobility, and varying degrees of inflammation and pain. Osteoarthritis is typically a result of joint instability from ligament laxity, strains, direct or indirect injury, or faulty bone and cartilage development.

Less efficient repair processes in older patients make age a contributing factor, and the condition may be exacerbated by obesity and/or overexertion.

Osteoarthritis may affect up to 20% of dogs over one year of age. Once joint cells are stressed or damaged, ulceration of joint cartilage and compromise of the lubricants of the joint fluids occurs. This damage causes the joint lining and capsule to become inflamed and the bone that is underlying the cartilage to become less resilient.

When the sensitive tissues of both the joint and bone are affected (usually after significant cartilage damage), signs of pain, lameness, swelling, stiffness, and muscle wasting become typically apparent.

The initial stages of osteoarthritis are not readily apparent, but once deterioration has progressed far enough, painful inflammation begin. The first visible signs of osteoarthritis pain may include lameness, difficulty rising, lying down, or climbing stairs, or inability or reluctance to jump. It is important to identify and treat underlying joint instabilities or pathologies in order to manage osteoarthritis successfully.

Consult your veterinarian to have your pet examined should you suspect osteorthritis. Your veterinarian is in the best position to advise you on the best treatment options.

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