Osteoarthritis not just an ‘old dog’ condition

Any size dog can get osteoarthritis, and any breed.
Any size dog can get osteoarthritis, and any breed.

IT is not just our bones that can struggle during the colder months but also those of our furry friends.

Winter will see many Australian pets diagnosed with osteoarthritis, so it is important to look out for any warning signs.

Pet Insurance Australia’s Nadia Crighton said even the slightest change in behaviour or activity warranted a veterinary check to make sure a pet was not in pain.

“You may notice that your feline friend can no longer groom themselves in hard to reach areas like the top of the back, or they simply do not like hanging out on the top perch of the cat scratcher anymore,” Crighton said.

“Having litter mishaps is also a common symptom that your pet could be suffering from arthritic pain and in need of veterinary treatment.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about osteoarthritis is age.

“We see a large number of claims for pets under the age of eight in regard to arthritis,” Crighton said.

PetSure chief veterinary officer Dr Magdoline Awad said statistics showed 20 per cent of all adult dogs suffered from osteoarthritis and about 80 per cent of geriatric dogs had the condition.

“It isn’t just an ‘older dog’ issue,” Awad said.

“Any size dog can get osteoarthritis, and any breed.”

Awad said many dogs would present symptoms before they were one year old and it was vital they were quickly managed.

“It is important to note that treatment needs to be sorted quickly so that your vet can get your pet onto a management plan that may include medication, supplements and diet,” Crighton said.

When managed correctly, dogs and cats suffering from arthritis can lead happy and relatively pain-free lives.


Sore stiff joints


Reluctance to run or jump

Pain in the joint when moving or jumping

Difficultly getting up

Muscle wastage

Sleeping more, lethargic

Groaning, yelping when moving


Keep pets moving

Just because your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis does not mean the need to stop exercising. Ask your vet about the correct amount of exercise for your pet but keep those joints moving. Consider swimming and walking. Low-impact exercise is great for pets with arthritis.

Correct weight

Ensure your pet is not overweight or obese. Being overweight adds strain to sore joints. Keeping at the correct weight is very important for arthritis management. Many owners do not know the correct weight range for their pet, so knowledge is key.


Feed your pet a well-balanced, age-appropriate diet at the correct amount. Don’t forget to remove the ‘treat’ portion from this amount.


Supply a good supportive bed for dogs and warm places to curl up for cats. All pets need a warm, weather-proof area with ample shelter, warmth, and away from direct rain/wind.