Arthritis (Osteoarthritis, Degenerative Joint Disease): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Aimee Beck
3 min readFeb 19, 2021

Simply put, arthritis explains the inflammation of the joints. Most common among older pets, the condition can be mildly uncomfortable or painfully debilitating.

The most common type of arthritis is degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis. It affects roughly 20% of adult dogs in the US, and a whopping 90% of cats over the age of 12.

What Causes Arthritis in Cats?

Certain breeds are more prone to developing arthritis because of underlying joint problems.

For example, main coons, Persians and Siamese cats are known to develop hip dysplasia, which is an abnormal development of the hip joints.

Abyssinians and Devon Rex cats have been known to develop patella luxation, which is the dislocation of the kneecap.

And Scottish folds often experience severe arthritis because of a common cartilage (the squishy stuff that cushions the bones of the joint) abnormality.

Injuries and trauma can also cause arthritis. If your feline friend breaks a bone, dislocates a hip or shoulder, or suffers any other type of joint injury, the healing process may cause abnormal joint conformation, which can lead to osteoarthritis.

What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?

Certain dogs are predisposed to various joint issues, which can lead to arthritis, like hip or elbow dysplasia, and patella luxation.

Some large-breed dogs are prone to arthritis, such as Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, German shepherds and Rottweilers.

Like cats, dogs can also develop arthritis from ligament or cartilage injuries. The most frequently damaged ligament in dogs is the CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) in the knee.

Sometimes an infection can cause cartilage and joint tissue to deteriorate.

Some diseases, like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause pain and inflammation of the joints in both dogs and cats. In both cases, an overreaction of the immune system affects multiple joints, ultimately wearing down the cartilage (and eventually the bone) in the joints.

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Aimee Beck

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