Winter, with its cooler days and chilly nights, are particularly difficult for those suffering from arthritis. Your pet can suffer from arthritis in the same way as we do, even from a young age. It is tricky to tell if your pet is suffering from arthritis, especially if he/she still runs around like a young pup/kitten. Unfortunately, your pet is unable to communicate with words that he/she may be in discomfort due to arthritis and we therefore only notice when the arthritis has become more severe. However, you may be able to notice some subtle signs, with changes in your pet’s behaviour, so you can start supportive treatments early.
Signs that your pet may be exhibiting:
Your pet may limp or favour one or more of his/her legs, depending on where the arthritis is effecting. This limp may seem worse when your pet first rises and become less noticeable as your pet “warms up” by moving around.
Your pet may also become reluctant to do things that were previously easy for him/her to accomplish. For example - your dog may find it difficult to get into and out of the car or may have difficulty going up and down stairs that were previously easily manageable. Arthritic cats may stop jumping onto countertops, perches and other high areas because of the pain and discomfort.
Your pet may tire more easily. For dogs, this may mean that walks become shorter and more painful. Your pet may spend more time sleeping and/or resting.
The pain from arthritis can cause your pet to become irritable. They may snap and/or bite when approached or handled, particularly if the petting or handling takes place in a manner that increases their pain.
Licking, Chewing, Biting:
Your pet may lick, chew or bite at painful body areas. This may even reach the point of causing inflamed skin and hair loss over affected areas.
If you are concerned your pet is displaying any of these behavioural changes, please contact your vet to book a physical examination and discuss the best treatment options.
Veterinary Nurse Kirstie Hancock is qualified in animal behaviour with her Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services through the Delta Society. She has lots of great tips and ideas when it comes to misbehaving pets. Keep an eye out for her monthly tips on our Facebook page. Also check out her own business Facebook page - Positive Paws.