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Is your older pet slowing down?

What is

What is osteoarthritis?

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, osteoarthritis can be considered an age-related disease and is more prevalent as cats age. However, young cats can also be affected. Trauma is also an important risk factor for cats, especially those with outdoor access.

Recognise the subtle signs

Dogs and cats can be quite effective at hiding their pain which makes it difficult to recognise osteoarthritis in its early stages. However, it is very important for long-term joint health that action is taken as early as possible. If you recognise any of the behavioural signs in the image in your pet, there’s a good chance that they may be suffering from osteoarthritic pain.

If you’ve noticed any of the above behaviours, your pet may be in pain and it is best to contact your vet. Try to capture some video footage as it can be very helpful for your vet to see video evidence of the behavioural signs you have noticed at home.

Osteoarthritis is a lifelong condition that requires a combination of attentive home care and veterinary care.

One of the main goals of treatment of OA is managing the pain and inflammation it is associated with. Be sure to discuss this with your vet to determine the best course of action. Early diagnosis, treatment and regular check-ups can help your pet rediscover their youthful enthusiasm.


  1. Monteiro, B. P. et al. (2022) 2022 WSAVA guidelines for the recognition, assessment and treatment of pain. J Small Anim Pract,.
  2. Maniaki, E. et al. (2021) Associations between early neutering, obesity, outdoor access, trauma and feline degenerative joint disease. J Feline Med Surg, 23, 965–975.
  3. Harari, J. (1997). Clinical Evaluation of the Osteoarthritic Patient. Vet Clin N Am 27(4):725-734.
  4. Piermattei, D., Flo, G & DeCamp, C. (2006) Arthrology. In Piermattei, D., Flo, G & DeCamp, C. (Eds.) Handbook of Small Animal Orthopaedics and Fracture Repair (4th ed., pp.185-215). Saunders Elsevier.
  5. Todhunter, R. J & Johnston, S. A (2003) Osteoarthritis. In Slatter, D (Ed.) Textbook of Small Animal Surgery (3rd ed., pp. 2208-2246). Saunders.
  6. Clarke, S.P., et al. (2006) Feline osteoarthritis: a prospective study of 28 cases (1994-1997). J Am Vet Med Assoc, 47, 439-445.

Exceptional vet service. I have three cats and a dog and have been taking them to Yeronga Veterinary Clinic for over twelve years. I have always found the staff to be caring and professional. Their compassion and the dedication shown to each animal is of a high standard. I would recommend this clinic to anyone looking for outstanding care for their pets.

We moved into the Yeronga area over 18 years ago with our 2 border collies and were fortunate to have someone recommend the Yeronga Veterinary Surgery to us. Since then they have supported us through many wonderful moments when we added 2 wolfhounds to our family and adopted 2 kittens through their adoption service. They have also supported us in the most devastating of times losing 3 dogs over the years. Anita and her team achieve the perfect balance of being excellent vets providing the best of care for pets (and their owners) in a genuine caring and compassionate manner. We are always able to book appointments when needed and have been seen promptly when we have had emergency situations too. I would highly recommend Yeronga Veterinary Surgery.

I have been a patient of Yeronga Vet Clinic for over 20 years and wouldn’t go anywhere else. Dr Lisca and the team are second to none. Recently my 3 year old Labradoodle Daisy ruptured her cruciate ligament and underwent surgery. The professionalism and care Daisy received was top class. I would recommend Yeronga Vet Clinic to anyone looking for a great vet service for their fur baby.

We first came to Yeronga Veterinary Surgery nearly 4 years ago, carrying our tiny black Labrador puppy Delilah in, hoping to find some guidance and caring attention, and just a little bit of shared dog-madness. Well, we were in luck, and we have never looked back. The team at Yeronga Vet Surgery have been nothing short of exceptional at every step of our journey with them. From the basics of preventative care to important surgeries (and the odd mini-emergency thanks to our hungry labradors…) everyone has been both professional and welcoming, and more importantly, extremely good at their jobs! I am constantly blown away by the care and attention we receive, and the fact that our dogs cry with excitement when we pull into the street says it all. We’ve never had dogs who are so excited to visit the vet. We can’t recommend the team highly enough – they are exceptional.

Hi there puny human my name is Bastet. Here is a picture of me in all my glory to help your feeble human brain rest for a moment so I don’t pile on to much information at once. Ready? Nevermind let’s continue. Every few months my manservant deems it necessary to verify the divinity of close personal friend Zeus and myself, here is picture of us looking regal. I know you’re thinking “They are clearly perfect why would he waste their time.” and the answer is frankly he’s not very bright but means well so we indulge him. One thing we demand in return is that he takes us to the Yeronga Vet Surgery where we know we will be shown the respect and deference as befits ones such as us. So if you must interrupt the napping, playing or eating of your betters take them to Yeronga Vet Surgery.

Yeronga Vet have alway been wonderful in their professionalism and care over the years for those furrier members of the family, adding a healthy dose of genuine sympathy for those less routine difficult visits.