The degeneration of a joint. As smooth cartilage is lost from the surface of the joint, the soft tissues around the joint become inflamed and the joint gradually becomes more and more stiff.
Primary osteoarthritis develops through natural wear and tear as the dog ages.
Secondary osteoarthritis can develop as the result of an earlier injury, such as a sprain, cruciate ligament damage or infection. Or, it may develop as a result of deformed joints.
Osteoarthritis is slow to develop and before the owner notices any soreness in the joint, the osteoarthritis may be already well established. The most common areas to suffer osteoarthritis are the hips, the stifles and the elbows. The dog will present with symptoms of lameness, with the severity being a direct representation to the severity of the arthritis. If the dog has difficulty rising and sitting, and is generally slow in movement, it is possible that more that one joint is affected. The dog may spend more and more time lying down as the disease progresses, with standing becoming increasingly difficult. The symptoms of arthritis are generally worse after prolonged periods of rest, with movements seeming to lessen symptoms somewhat.