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Osteoarthritis: How do I know if my pet is in pain?

September 1st marks the start of Pain Management Awareness Month. It is so important that we know how to recognize pain in our pets and treat it early on to ensure they are comfortable and happy throughout their lives. One of the biggest causes of pain in our pets is osteoarthritis pain. Osteoarthritis is not just an “older” pet problem.

Twenty percent of dogs over the age of 1 year are affected by osteoarthritis and 80% of dogs and cats over the age of 8 years are affected. Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that will affect your pets for their entire life. When dogs and cats are young, they are often “bouncing off the walls,” chasing, jumping, and getting those adorable zoomies. While all of this is part of being young and happy, these repetitive movements can cause micro injuries to the cartilage of their joints. Over time, these micro injuries can progress and lead to further degeneration of joints down the road. Some things to watch for indicating your pet may be painful are:

  • Trouble getting up from lying position or trouble laying down
  • Slowing down on walks, wanting to sit during walks
  • Trouble going up/down stairs
  • Withdrawing from family time
  • Sitting with hind legs to the side vs under them
  • Licking front legs or paws
  • Hunched back
  • Squinting eyes or tight facial expression
  • Posture shifting
  • Grumpy behavior
  • Limping or favoring a limb
  • Oversensitive to touch or brushing
  • Reluctance to or difficulty jumping onto furniture

While there is no way to reverse arthritis once it starts, there are ways to slow it down and provide comfort. The earlier you start the better. Starting young animals on a basic glucosamine chondroitin supplement can help to repair these micro injuries that happen from progressing and maintain the health of the joint cartilage. Concentrated fish oils are another good supplement to start. There are many benefits to fish oil such as anti-inflammatory properties, skin and coat, heart, brain and nerve function. While many foods are starting to add in fish oils and glucosamine chondroitin, oftentimes it is not at a dose high enough to be preventative, so additional supplementation is needed.

While supplements are great to start with, as pets age they may need something a little more powerful to relieve their pain and discomfort. There are so many therapies available now. The best is a multimodal approach, meaning the use of different therapy types to address pain and discomfort from different angles. This includes:

  • Diet and nutrition
  • Weight loss
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Stretching and exercise
  • Water therapy
  • Laser
  • Supplements
  • Medications
  • Joint injections
  • Stem cell therapy

Please contact us if you believe your pet could be in pain or if you are interested in learning more. You can also visit or for more information.