Arthritis in cats and dogs

Did you know that around 9,000,000 people in the UK suffer from arthritis? But did you also know that just like us humans it commonly affects our four-legged friends too? An estimated eight out of ten older cats and dogs are living with this painful joint condition, but we often mistakenly put the symptoms down to old age when in reality they could be suffering in silence.

So let’s get down to the real bones of this debilitating joint disease.

What is arthritis?

Here comes the geeky bit! The suffix ‘itis’ means inflammation, and arthritis simply means inflammation of the joints.


There are many different types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis. Healthy joints are covered by cartilage, a rubbery material that creates a cushion between the bones and provides a smooth surface for movement. When arthritis occurs, this cartilage breaks down, causing swelling, stiffness, movement problems and increasing pain, which steadily spreads throughout the body.

What causes arthritis?

Arthritis is normally found in older cats and dogs, although it can affect youngsters too. It’s usually caused by natural wear and tear of the joints, but can also be linked to injuries, as well as joint abnormalities such as hip dysplasia for dogs and dislocation for cats.

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Sadly our furry friends aren’t able to communicate like humans if they are in pain and are very good at hiding it! Whilst dogs can yelp out in pain, cats tend to be more stiff and grumpy – but who can blame them living with constant pain!


  • Subdued or uncharacteristically grumpy behaviour
  • Sleepiness, or a general lack of energy
  • Lameness, limping or hobbling
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning or when it’s cold and damp
  • Reluctance to climb, jump onto the sofa or into the back of the car
  • For cats, difficulty grooming their back or tail
  • Changes in your dog’s posture when running, or lying down
  • Less enthusiasm on walks
  • Persistently licking their fur
  • "Accidents" in the house, often because stiff joints make it harder for cats to climb into their litter tray

How is arthritis diagnosed?

If your beloved pet is showing any of the above symptoms book them in for an examination. To help diagnose arthritis we might do a handful of tests including a urine sample, blood tests, Xray scans and even trying anti-inflammatory medicine in the first instance. 

What treatment is available?

The great news is that we can recommend plenty of treatments to help manage your pets arthritis and relieve their discomfort. These might include painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, joint supplements, and specially formulated diets. We can also refer our patientds for physical rehabilitation and hydrotherapy. 

Interesting fact about hamsters curing arthritis…

One of the best treatments for arthritis is a product made from the stem cells of Chinese hamster ovaries! Yes that’s right our small furry friends have super-human antibodies that attack arthritis! Mind-blowing!

What can owners do to help pets with arthritis?

If your precious pet is diagnosed with arthritis, there are measures you can take to help them at home too, such as giving them a warm, cosy bed, covering slippery floors with anti-slip matting, brief and regular walks and ensuring your cat’s litter tray is easily accessible.


Weight control also makes a big difference, because weight puts pressure on the joints. We often find that overweight pets are much more prone to developing arthritis which is another reason why maintaining a healthy weight is vital to their preventative care.

What are the costs for treating a pet with arthritis?

This varies on the severity of the condition but on the average cost of treating a dog with arthritis is around £500- £1000 per year! The most cost-affective way to help your arthritic pet is by joining our 365 Pet Care Plan.  Members on the plan get 25% off lifetime meds which is a huge cost-saving. Find out more about our amazing value plan below:

Sign up now

Explore more

Pet weight

Pet weight



New owner packs

New owner packs

Senior pet advice

Senior pet advice

Make their old age their golden age!

Sign-up to our newsletter

Sign-up to our newsletter

Get the latest news and offers from the easipetcare team direct to your inbox!