The Dog is Limping and the Cat Won’t Jump!

The above is often heard in conversation with our veterinary clients. While there are multiple causes for musculoskeletal disorders, there is an assumption that with the aging of our pets a reduction in activity and physical capability is to be expected.  It is true that across the spectrum of the animal kingdom there is a decline in physical attributes in conjunction with aging.  But merely accepting that our pets can no longer engage in their previous activites without thoroughly searching out a cause is doing a disservice to our pets as well as their families.

The most common diagnosis suggested when our dogs are exhibiting a limp or our cats are no longer jumping is arthritis.  And while this is  the case in some circumstances, there is a myriad of conditions that result in these same symptoms.  Infections such as Lyme disease  may affect multiple joints simultaneously resulting in limping on one or several legs.  Previous injuries that have damaged cartilage surfaces may result in the development of osteoarthritis in the affected  joints. Soft tissue trauma such as sprains and muscle tears may result in your pet not wanting to take walks or chase toys.  Finally chronic wear and tear that all animals are subjected to does take its toll over time.

So how do we go about dealing with these issues?  The first step is by making a specific diagnosis. Taking the guesswork out of the equation increases the likelihood that we can assist a pet in returning to a previous level of activity.  Next we will look at some of the diagnostic procedures that are useful in identifying the location and nature of specific problems.