Millions of pets are in pain caused by the often debilitating effects of arthritis. Owners frequently notice that their pet moves slower, has difficulty sitting and getting up from a laying position, or that their pet doesn’t jump up and down off of furniture anymore; these are all potential signs of arthritis. Although most common in older large and giant breed dogs, this disease can affect any species, breed, size or age of animal including cats and birds. Genetically predisposed to hip and elbow dysplasia or trauma to joints may lead to early onset of the disease. Considered an incurable disease, early detection of arthritis provides the greatest opportunity to create a long term health plan for the treatment of your pets. Arthritis is used to describe inflammatory joint changes. Osteoarthritis is a degenerating joint disease (DJD) with cartilage and bone changes. Treatment options are widely available and range from acupuncture and holistic medicine to hydrotherapy, ultrasound or laser therapy (check out Dr. Swanson website or Blog on Laser Therapy). Many oral and injectable medications and supplements such as Adequan, Rimadyl and Tramadol are also available to ease the pain associated with arthritis. Owners must be aware that over-the-counter human medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen as they are toxic to dogs and cats. Commonly within one month of starting a treatment plan with their veterinarian, owners notice drastic improvements in their pets’ daily activities. Veterinarians also frequently recommend diet changes and exercise as part of a treatment plan for pets with arthritis as most arthritic pets tend to become over weight and have poor muscle tone. Adding low impact exercise such as swimming or a daily walk is a great way to decrease weight while increasing the mobility of your pet to maintain muscle tone.