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Both dogs and cats are encouraged to run, jump and play from the time they are puppies and kittens, and while for the most part, they are in perfect agreement of this treatment, over time such activities can be hard on the joints, and in some cases can cause issues such as dislocation. In addition, pets can experience joint, ligament, and tendon problems simply because they are getting older. For this reason, it is important that pet owners pay close attention to any signs that their pets are not tolerating their level of activity, in order to make sure they are not in need of medications or even surgery to correct the problem.
Joint disease in dogs can take on many forms, including osteoarthritis. Their joint issues normally fall into one of two categories; developmental or degenerative. Hip and elbow dysplasia are both developmental problems that start to form when a dog is young. Degenerative problems are more common in older dogs when they have a ligament that is degenerating over time.
For dogs, the most obvious sign that joint disease may be present include limping or holding their limbs in an odd position. They may also simply slow down, or may have a more difficult time with stairs or will not be able to jump on furniture that was once not an issue. While any dog can develop joint problems, these issues are most common in larger breeds.
Cats typically don't run, jump, and play with their humans quite as much as dogs, and because they are smaller than large breed dogs they are less susceptible to joint disease, but it does happen. When cats experience degenerative joint disease (DJD) but it can be harder to notice their symptoms, so pet owners need to watch for different things. Unlike dogs, they don't have the same kind of overt lameness, but they may have trouble jumping on furniture, reaching all their spots during grooming, or even climbing in and out of the litter box. Changes in personality, such as irritability may also happen.
If you are concerned about your dog or cat and feel that their joints might not be developing correctly, or they are starting to feel pain due to an advanced age, there are many different things that their veterinarian might suggest to help them feel better and increase their quality of life. To learn more about what might be going on with your pet, contact us at Watertown Animal Hospital in Watertown, CT at 860-274-2212 to schedule an appointment.