This year we are all faced with an uncertain winter period but those of us who are lucky enough to have pets they will provide a good focus. As the colder months progress an important topic of conversation that we find comes up with owners is osteoarthritis (OA). 

Diagnosing osteoarthritis in our pets can be very tricky, we are reliant often on very subtle behaviour changes that owners pick up by spending time with their pets. We have to interpret behaviour changes associated with chronic pain with those that pets can display as they get older, more associated with progressing old age changes. For example your dog may seem restless in the evening and can’t get comfortable, is this associated with discomfort from osteoarthritis or is it due to being unsettled from dementia changes? 

A study by Enomoto et al (2020) has designed a list of 6 questions to help in the diagnosis of degenerative joint disease in cats:


1. Does your cat jump up normally?
2. Does your cat jump down normally?
3. Does your cat climb up stairs or steps normally
4. Does your cat climb down stairs or steps normally?
5. Does your cat chase moving objects (toys, prey and so on)?

As vets there are many tools for us to use to assess your pet for mobility and arthritis but our most important tool is YOU, the owner. You may find on your visit to us that if youhave concerns about your pets comfort we may ask you to complete a questionnaire either answering the questions above or a more complex questionnaire. As vets it is our job to teach our owners about the signs of chronic pain and how to look out for them. 

Our main focus for our patients is their quality of life, this is a question you may find your vet asks regarding your pet. It is important to consider if your pets quality of life has changed or deteriorated through chronic pain then it is time to consider pain relief. I always relate chronic pain to if you have ever suffered with a tooth root infection, the chronic ache that you have to live with, it often makes you bad tempered, upset and even impacts on your normal daily routine. Now imagine this for your pets and the impact that it has on their day!

We have a number of different drugs available to us to be able to support your pets from anti inflammatories focusing on improving inflammation or pain relief targeting neuropathic pain. 

Being able to diagnose chronic pain has a huge impact on your pets quality of life so if you have any concerns that your pet maybe uncomfortable please don’t hesitate to contact your nearest swaynes branch.