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Osteoarthritis in Dogs and Horses

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“Osteoarthritis can be described as the failed repair of damage that has been caused by excessive mechanical stress on joint tissues.”

By Barbara Forney, VMD

Osteoarthritis (OA), or degenerative joint disease, is the most-common chronic musculoskeletal disorder in dogs, horses, and humans. While not life-threatening, osteoarthritis can be a major factor in quality of life and health care economics for humans, pets, and athletic animals.

  • In 2001, the estimated cost for the management and treatment of osteoarthritis in humans was $89.1 billion dollars.
  • It is estimated that 20% of dogs greater than one year of age are affected by osteoarthritis.
  • There are about 7.3 million horses in the United States and veterinary researchers estimate that osteoarthritis accounts for approximately 60% of lameness problems in horses.

Osteoarthritis can be treated and/or managed but there is no true cure. Effective management of osteoarthritis is important from both an economic and an animal welfare point of view.

Read the complete monograph with citations.

About the Author

Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.

She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.

Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.