Them old bones

Are your joints feeling stiff on these chilly mornings? Are you struggling to get out of bed and start the day?

Well chances are, your pet is too! Across all species, signs of arthritis tend to be worse in the cold and our older pets are likely to be feeling the chill in the past few weeks. It is important to remember that a year in the life of a dog or cat is roughly equivalent to seven human years and so our seven year old dog is middle aged with rickety joints to match.

Arthritis is the most common disease in our older pets with approximately 50% of dogs over the age of seven suffering from the disease and it is estimated that over 55% of these go untreated. The arthritis process, referred to as degenerative joint disease, is a result of accumulated wear and tear over the course of an animal’s life and leads to pain and inflammation in the joints.

Arthritis is insidious and is often dismissed by owners and is described as ‘just slowing down’. Some of the symptoms include:

Dogs //

  • Stiff getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Slow to start moving, but warm out of it.
  • No longer sitting ‘square’.
  • Reluctance to jump onto ute/bed/couch.
  • Lameness – often coming and going.
  • Licking at joints.
  • Tiring more easily on walks.
  • Change in demeanour.

Cats //

  • More time sleeping than previously.
  • Reluctance to jump up.
  • Poor grooming over back and tail.
  • Overgrooming over joints.
  • Change in demeanour when being petted/brushed.
  • Lameness.

The great news is that there are many options to help our aging pets! A few simple things you can do to help your pet include:

  • A soft, warm, comfortable bed in a draft free area.
  • Easy access to food and water i.e. don’t have to go upstairs or through a doggie door.
  • Ensure pet is at a healthy weight (if you are not sure, ask your vet!).
  • Daily moderate exercise – swimming is great! (Maybe not so much for the cat).
  • Book an annual health check at your local vet.
  • Assess your pet for the symptoms discussed above.

The first step to managing arthritis, is to identify the problem; if you are concerned your pet is showing some of these symptoms, then mention them at the annual check-up or book an appointment today at Barossa Veterinary Service. The vet can then assess your pet and work with you to address the specific needs of your pet with a tailor made management plan.

If you have any questions, you can email Catherine at or visit our website for more details.


Looking for more advice for your favourite pet? Check out the following articles by Catherine.

Catherine Harper of Barossa & Kapunda Veterinary Clinic