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Recognizing and Managing Arthritis in Senior Pets


As our pets grow older, they become cherished members of our families who deserve the best care possible. One common ailment that affects senior pets is arthritis, a degenerative joint disease that can cause significant discomfort and mobility issues. Recognizing the early signs of arthritis and implementing effective management strategies can greatly enhance your pet's quality of life.

Recognizing Arthritis in Senior Pets

Arthritis in pets can often go unnoticed until the symptoms become more pronounced. As a pet owner, it's important to recognize the subtle signs early on to ensure your furry friend receives the appropriate care. Common indicators of arthritis in senior pets include:


  • Limping or lameness: Your pet may favor one leg over the other, especially after rest.

  • Stiffness: Difficulty getting up, lying down, or moving after periods of inactivity.

  • Reduced activity levels: Reluctance to play, climb stairs, or jump onto furniture.

  • Behavioral changes: Increased irritability, reduced interest in activities they once enjoyed, or withdrawal from social interactions.


In addition to these signs, you might notice that your pet has a decreased range of motion or is less enthusiastic about going for walks. They may also exhibit signs of discomfort when touched or petted in certain areas, particularly around the joints. Monitoring these behaviors and noting any changes can provide valuable information for your veterinarian. Early detection and diagnosis of arthritis are crucial for managing the condition effectively and ensuring your pet maintains a good quality of life. Regular checkups with your vet can help catch these signs early, allowing for timely intervention and better management of your pet's arthritis.

Managing Arthritis: Lifestyle Changes

Making thoughtful adjustments to your pet’s lifestyle can significantly alleviate arthritis symptoms and improve their overall comfort. 


  • Providing a soft, supportive bed to cushion their joints and ensure they have a restful sleep. Orthopedic pet beds are designed specifically for this purpose and can make a big difference.

  • Ensuring your pet has easy access to their essential needs. Place food and water dishes at a comfortable height to reduce the need for bending or stretching. 

  • Consider using ramps or pet stairs to help them reach their favorite spots, such as the couch or bed, without the need for painful jumping.

  • Regular, gentle exercise is vital for maintaining mobility and preventing stiffness. Engage in low-impact activities like short walks or controlled play sessions. Swimming is an excellent exercise for arthritic pets as it provides resistance without putting stress on the joints. Always monitor your pet during exercise to ensure they are not overexerting themselves.

  • Maintaining a healthy weight is also critical, as excess weight can exacerbate arthritis symptoms by putting additional strain on the joints. Consult with your veterinarian to create a balanced diet plan that meets your pet’s nutritional needs while helping them maintain an optimal weight. 


By incorporating these lifestyle changes, you can significantly enhance your senior pet’s quality of life and manage their arthritis more effectively.

Medical Interventions for Arthritis

Veterinary care is essential for managing arthritis in senior pets, as medical interventions can significantly reduce pain and improve mobility. One of the primary treatments involves the use of medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications help decrease inflammation and alleviate pain, making movement more comfortable for your pet. Always follow your veterinarian’s dosage recommendations to avoid potential side effects.


In addition to NSAIDs, your vet might suggest joint supplements that contain ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin. These supplements can help rebuild cartilage and improve joint function over time. Omega-3 fatty acids are another beneficial supplement, known for their anti-inflammatory properties.


Physical therapy is another effective treatment option. Techniques such as hydrotherapy, laser therapy, and acupuncture can provide relief from arthritis pain and improve your pet's range of motion. Your veterinarian can recommend a certified pet physical therapist to develop a tailored exercise and therapy plan for your pet.


Regular veterinary checkups are crucial for monitoring the progression of arthritis and adjusting treatment plans as needed. Your vet may perform X-rays or other diagnostic tests to assess the condition of your pet's joints and ensure that the chosen interventions are effective. Combining medical treatments with lifestyle changes can provide comprehensive care for your arthritic pet, enhancing their quality of life and ensuring they remain active and happy.

Ensuring Comfort for Your Senior Pet

Caring for a senior pet with arthritis requires a combination of vigilance, lifestyle adjustments, and medical interventions. Recognizing the early signs of arthritis, such as limping or stiffness, and implementing supportive measures like a comfortable bed and gentle exercise can make a significant difference in your pet's well-being. Medical treatments, including medications and physical therapy, play a crucial role in managing pain and maintaining mobility.


If you're in Burien, Seattle, White Center, Tukwila, or Des Moines and notice your pet showing signs of arthritis, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. At Burien Veterinary Hospital, we’re committed to providing comprehensive care to ensure your senior pet lives a comfortable and happy life.


Book an appointment with us today to discuss the best arthritis management plan for your pet by visiting our website.


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At Burien Veterinary Hospital, we serve pets and their guardians in Burien, White Center, Tukwila, Des Moines and the surrounding areas.


At Burien Veterinary Hospital, we serve pets and their guardians in Burien, White Center, Tukwila, Des Moines and the surrounding areas.
(206) 242-1290


14628 Ambaum Blvd SW, Burien, WA 98166
Monday - Friday : 9am - 6pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed




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