Pet Health
Causes of Arthritis & Other Joint Disease
Marty Smith, DVM
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.

Many pets develop some form of joint disease during their lives. It can be mild, even
unnoticeable to the pet owner, or it can be debilitating, severely affecting the pet's
quality of life or even causing complete lameness. The majority of cases fall somewhere in

While some pets may develop joint disease in the first half of their lives, signs usually do
not appear until the latter half of life, which varies depending on your pet's breed. Dogs
are more susceptible to arthritis than cats, however, many cats do suffer from arthritis.

There are many diseases that affect the joints of cats, so many, in fact, that there are
10 major classifications.

Joint diseases occur as a result of:

Ligament, tendon, or muscle disease, e.g., ruptured anterior
cruciate  ligament      
Fractures involving the joint
Developmental disorders, e.g., hip or elbow dysplasia
Congenital disorders
Dietary and hormonal disease, e.g.,
hyperparathyroidism, obesity
Metabolic disorders, e.g., diabetes
Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis)
Inflammatory joint disease, e.g., progressive polyarthritis
Degenerative spinal joint disease,
e.g., intervertebral disc disease

Copyright © 1997-2004, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted from
The most common signs of joint disease include
stiffness, limping, or favoring a limb - particularly after
sleep or resting, inability to rise, reluctance to jump or
even climb stairs, and noticeable pain.
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