Osteoarthritis in Dogs and Cats

mt. carmel animal hospital osteoarthritis in dogs and cats

This article discusses more about osteoarthritis in dogs and cats.

The most prevalent type of joint disease in dogs and cats is osteoarthritis. In pets with this joint disease, the cartilage lining at the end of the bone wears out, causing pain, inflammation, and stiffness where the bones rub together. This article discusses more about osteoarthritis in dogs and cats.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic, progressive joint disease affecting dogs and cats. This degenerative condition makes animals lose their joint cartilage, leading to pain, inflammation, and difficulty using the affected limb. Many factors may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in dogs and cats. For instance, hip and elbow dysplasia, patella luxation, previous fractures, cranial cruciate ligament damage, repetitive high-impact activities, and even obesity. Fat cells can trigger inflammatory mediators, which may worsen the progression of OA.

Signs of OA

The signs of osteoarthritis in dogs and cats might vary from mild to severe based on the chronicity and number of joints at risk. They include:


Osteoarthritis is usually diagnosed after a physical examination, in which your vet will analyze your pet’s gait and posture to feel for any abnormal changes to the joints. The completion of X-rays may occur to further examine the joint or bony changes and to diagnose any underlying orthopedic conditions. Your veterinarian might even recommend a CT, MRI, or arthroscopy to evaluate better the tissues surrounding the bone that do not show up on x-rays.


Osteoarthritis cannot be cured, but instead is managed.The treatment aims to reduce pain, slow the progression of damage, and develop or maintain muscle mass. Treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs and cats may include any of the following:

Lifestyle Changes

Pet owners may help manage OA in their pets by monitoring their weight, having them complete low-impact activities, and using non-slip rugs and ramps to get on beds, couches, or cars.

Physical Therapy and UWT

  • Therapeutic modalities such as pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) and acupuncture
  • Underwater treadmill – Mount Carmel Animal Hospital is happy to offer UWT to its patients. It’s ideal for weight management, surgery or injury recovery, chronic conditions, etc.

Cold Laser Therapy

Cold laser therapy helps dogs and cats increase tissue repair quality, speed, and strength, relieve pain, and resolve inflammation.

Joint Supplements

  • This may include chondroitin sulfate, omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine
  • Joint injections such as stem cell therapy or platelet-rich plasma

Medications (Librela, NSAIDs, pain meds) (dogs only)

  • Your canine will require regular monitoring with blood work if they need long-term NSAIDs for pain and inflammation.
  • Librela is a type of injectable medication that can be given to your dog once monthly to manage OA pain.
  • As the disease progresses, you can give medications like gabapentin and tramadol to your dog to help with the pain.

Solensia and Pain Medications (cats only)

  • If your cat suffers from osteoarthritis pain, you might notice changes in their daily behavior. This is where Solensia comes in. It’s a monthly injection that your vet can administer for pain management and mobility purposes.
  • Cats cannot take NSAIDs long-term due to the way they metabolize them and the stress it puts on their kidneys. They can take pain medications such as gabapentin to help control their pain level.


Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook

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