Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage within the joint is worn away, leading to inflammation and pain. It is a common cause of impaired mobility in dogs and cats, and the signs are often incorrectly attributed to ‘slowing down due to the natural ageing process’, which means many pets are missing out on osteoarthritis treatments that could improve their quality of life.
The differences between cats and dogs
Osteoarthritis in dogs occurs primarily because of developmental orthopaedic disease, for example, hip or elbow dysplasia. Developmental diseases result in increased or abnormal mechanical loading in the joint which leads to chronic low-grade inflammation and degradation of joint tissues, and pain. For these reasons, osteoarthritis (and associated pain) develop early in life and should be considered a “young dog disease” despite being generally diagnosed in its later stages when the signs are easier to spot.
Although the mechanisms resulting in degenerative joint disease in cats are not fully understood, they are generally not related to developmental disease as they are in dogs. In cats, as with humans, osteoar