Joints and Arthritis

Joint Health

Joints are susceptible to a number of diseases, including arthritis. Any condition that damages a joint may produce arthritis. Causes of these conditions may include degenerative disorders, trauma, infections, and immune disorders.

Causes of Arthritis & Other Joint Disease

Many pets develop some form of joint disease during their lives. It can be mild, even unnoticeable to the pet owner, or it can be debilitating, severely affecting the pet's quality of life, or even causing complete lameness. The majority of cases fall somewhere in between.

While some pets may develop joint disease in the first half of their lives, signs usually do not appear until the latter half of life, which varies depending on your pet's breed. Dogs are more susceptible to arthritis than cats, and the larger dog breeds are more vulnerable than smaller breeds.

The most common signs of joint disease include stiffness, limping, or favoring a limb - particularly after sleep or resting, inability to rise, reluctance to jump or even climb stairs, and noticeable pain.

There are many diseases that affect the joints of dogs, so many, in fact, that there are 10 major classifications.

Joint diseases occur as a result of:

  • Ligament, tendon, or muscle disease, e.g., ruptured anterior cruciate ligament
  • Fractures involving the joint
  • Developmental disorders, e.g., hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, Legg-Perthes disease
  • Congenital disorders, e.g., Wobbler's syndrome (cervical spondylomyelopathy), luxated patella
  • Dietary and hormonal disease, e.g., hyperparathyroidism, obesity
  • Metabolic disorders, e.g., von Willebrand's disease (hemophilia) in dogs
  • Cancer
  • Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis)
  • Inflammatory joint disease, e.g., Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Degenerative spinal joint disease, e.g., intervertebral disc disease, cauda equina syndrome

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