What is it?
• Osteoarthritis is also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD).
• Osteoarthritis (OA) causes instability or pain in joints as a result of the degeneration of the cartilage within a joint.
• Primary OA is not common in dogs or cats, but occurs with old age as a result of wear and tear in an otherwise normal joint.
• Secondary OA is very common in both dogs and cats, and results from abnormalities or congenital defect in the joint such as hip or elbow dysplasia.
• OA can affect any joint, although most common are hips, knees, elbows, and shoulders.
What causes it?
• Osteoarthritis develops and worsens over months. and sometimes years.
• Any injury that leads to damage of the joint and surrounding structures may eventually lead to OA.
• Some common conditions that can lead to OA are hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament disease, osteochondritis dissecans, direct trauma or dislocation, or certain metabolic bone diseases.
• Symptoms include lameness, muscle atrophy, difficulty getting up or lying down, loss of appetite, stiffness, pain, and cracking or popping of the affected joint.
What tests are needed?
• Based on history and clinical signs, a veterinarian can typically identify the disorder.
• X-rays may be necessary to confirm diagnosis.
• In some cases, fluid can be retrieved to confirm diagnosis by analysis.
How is it treated?
• OA can be treated medically or surgically, such as hip replacement in a dog.
• Physical therapy, which can decrease stress on the joint, improves range of motion, and decreases pain.
• Low-impact exercise can help the animal lose weight and reduce stress on the joint.
• Supplements are available to decrease chronic degenerative processes within joints and alleviate pain.
• Steroids, non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAID), and pain killers may be administered to reduce pain.
• Acupuncture might also provide relief.
• Your veterinarian has a lot of modalities to manage osteoarthritis in your pet.
What follow up care is needed?
• High impact exercise should be avoided.
• Periodic check ups and laboratory tests are recommended to track response to therapy and the effect of medication on your pet.
• OA is chronic and progressive, and its course is difficult to predict.