Arthritis In Dogs - Signs, Symptoms, Management & Treatment Of Osteoarthritis in Dogs (2023)

Arthritis in Dogs

  • Emma Ruck
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Arthritis in dogs is a common disease.

Arthritis affects 20% of adult dogs and 80% of geriatric dogs. Even young dogs can be affected, if a predisposing condition is present. It also affects geriatric cats and rabbits.

What is arthritis in dogs?

Arthritis is a chronic degenerative disease that affects the most common joints such as the shoulders, knees, hips and elbows. The cartilage that lines and cushions the joints becomes eroded. This exposes the bone ends, leading topainful bone spurs. The joint lining also becomes inflamed and thickened,reducing mobility.

(Video) Dog Knee Arthritis: 5 Natural Solutions

Old age arthritis also known as osteoarthritis is very common in both humans and dogs, and widely regarded as the same disease. If you’ve noticed over time that your dog is reluctant to play, is lagging behind on walks, yelping when touched or has increased difficulty climbing stairs, your pet may be suffering from arthritis.

Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, many dogs live well past their prime years and while arthritis cannot be cured, any discomfort or pain they experience can be effectively managed and controlled.

Is arthritis common in younger dogs or older dogs?

Arthritis is relatively common in older dogs, and like humans, the result of daily wear and tear. The cartilage in between the joints deteriorates over time and the synovial fluid loses its lubricating properties resulting in inflammation and friction between the bones that causes reduced mobility and discomfort.

It’s not unusual to see symptoms of arthritis in dogs as young as six or seven years of age however it’s usually due to secondary factors that contribute to the progression of the disease such as ligament damage, poor nutrition, age and overweight dogs and dogs that suffer from immune diseases.

Arthritis In Dogs - Signs, Symptoms, Management & Treatment Of Osteoarthritis in Dogs (2)

Are certain dog breeds more susceptible to developing arthritis?

We would not say a certain type of breed is predisposed to developing arthritis but rather that the disease is typically seen in large breed dogs. Overweight animals proportionately carry more weight on the joints, leading to an increased chance of localised inflammation and irritation to the joints. This is not to say that your Pug doesn’t have arthritis, it’s simply less common in smaller dog breeds so regardless of the breed it’s important to maintain a healthy weight.

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What are the signs and symptoms of arthritis in dogs?

Clinical signs would include lameness and mobility difficulties such as jumping, getting in and out of their bed or climbing stairs. Sometimes owners report a change in behaviour, lethargy, some react to the pain but shying away from touch or becoming more aggressive. The signs and symptoms are not always obvious and can be as subtle as slightly longer periods of rest and a reluctance to go for a walk.

Common symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs include:

  • Lameness
  • Reluctance to jump onto furniture or into the car
  • Slow to get up after lying down
  • Stiffness after exercise
  • Avoiding the stairs
  • “Slowing down” – less willing to go for walks or play
  • Change in personality – becoming grumpy or irritable

Can you see visible signs of arthritic swelling?

What we often see is degenerative muscle wastage because your dog does not use the affected leg there can be signs of limping and general muscle mass loss over the spine and affected areas. Osteoarthritis commonly affects areas such as the hips, knee joint, shoulders and elbows, and sadly the condition worsens over time degrading the cartilage between the joints and the carpal joint in the front leg. It is not uncommon for dogs to experience pain along the spinal column as a result of the body compensating for areas of weakness.

How can we prevent arthritis in the first place in dogs?

First of all, maintaining an active lifestyle and lean body weight plays a big role in maintaining healthy joints. Following a prescription diet such as Royal Canin means you are guaranteed of providing your pooch with quality ingredients that includes omega three fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin and vital supplements that help to improve the quality of the cartilage and reduce painful inflammation.

If you suspect your dog may be showing signs of osteoarthritis, it is important to have your veterinarian conduct a physical examination to assess their range of motion. Your veterinarian may also recommend X-rays of the affected joints, which will help rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms such as Cruciate ligament damage or patella luxation. stabilizing the joints and treating susceptible areas early helps to slow the degenerative progression and prevent any further joint damage. In severe cases bone or cartilage particles float in the joint cavity causing significant pain and inflammation. These particles need to be surgically removed and, in some cases, it may become necessary to fuse the joint, an advanced surgical procedure used to salvage the bone.

Arthritis In Dogs - Signs, Symptoms, Management & Treatment Of Osteoarthritis in Dogs (3)

(Video) Arthritis In Dogs – 7 Common Signs, Symptoms And Treatment Options

Are there supplements that help to prevent arthritis in dogs?

The prescription diets such as Hills, JD, Royal Canin Mobility are all specifically formulated and fortified with omega fatty acids, fish oils, glucosamine and supplements that protect the joints. While there are numerous homeopathic and home remedies out there, there is no

conclusive evidence that ingredients such as turmeric are in fact effective.

How to manage / treat arthritis in dogs

One of the most important aspects of managing any animal with arthritis is to make sure that their pain is carefully managed and that they continue to live a good quality life.

Treatment may include daily anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the inflammation around the joint in conjunction with a weight management plan to reduce any pressure in the affected joints. A full blood test is conducted before starting any pain relief medication

Anti-inflammatory or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) do have side effects and your veterinarian will need to keep a close check on your dog’s kidney and liver function to appropriately manage thebest dosage, based on the dog’s health history. The other option in terms of medication is a disease modifying osteoarthritis drug called Zydax, this disease modifying medication is used to improve and protect the quality of the cartilage, widely referred to as a Chrondro protective drug that improves blood circulation and supports biosynthetic function of chondrocytes. An injectable course of Zydax is typically administered over four doses, one week apart and repeated once every six months.

Joint Supplement- Chrondroitin Sulfate, glucosamine Sulfate, Omega-3 -fatty- acid supplementation are commonly used supplements. There are a range of brands out there including Antinol, Glyde and 4 Cyte.

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Treatment is a multimodal approach and while surgery is sometimes unavoidable, we adopt a holistic approach to treatment first. It is recommended that limiting high impact activities such as jumping and running, continuing regular walks or swimming is a great form of exercise that places the least amount of strain on painful joints. We combine the best possible treatment options in order to achieve the best quality of life for our pooch patients.

As osteoarthritis is a chronic, progressive conditionthere is no cure. However, we have a range of options to manage the disease and keep the pet ascomfortableas possible. This involves using a combination of treatment options:

  • Weight management:this is the mainstay of osteoarthritis management. We want the pet to be in a lean, healthy body condition toavoid putting extra stress on the joints. If the pet is overweight/obese then getting it onto a weight loss plan is essential.
  • Exercise management: exercise will help maintain the muscles which will, in turn,support the joints. Regular, low impact exercise is recommended. Uncontrolled exercise (running, jumping, twisting when chasing balls or on the beach) will put extra strain on the joints. Another beneficial exercise is swimming – this is non-weight bearing and provides resistance which encourages muscle development without putting extra stress on the joints.
  • Therapeutic diets: Hills J/dorMetabolic + Mobility(if weight loss is needed) are both designed to help arthritis. They have a specific combination ofessential fatty acidswhich helps to reduce pain and inflammation in the joints and support the cartilage.
  • Zydax (pentosan polysulphate) injections:this a course ofinjections weeklyfor 4 weeks, every 6 months. Zydax reduces inflammation of the joint and helps to protect the cartilage from further damage. It is very safe and is often started in younger dogs with hip or elbow dysplasia or after surgery to help prevent early onset of arthritis.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs):These are medications which help torelieve pain and inflammationin the joints. A blood test is recommended prior to starting this medication as long-term use can cause liver and kidney problems.
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin):This is another pain relief medication which acts in a different manner to NSAIDs. It is good forchronic painand is safer for long term use in terms of liver and kidney function.
  • Nutraceuticals:examples include fish oil, chondroitin and glucosamine supplements. They may help toreduce inflammationof and protect the joints. They can be given long-term to help with management.
  • Surgery:surgical correction of conditions like patellar luxation and cruciate disease will help to delay the onset of arthritis by creating amore stable joint. Elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia may also need surgery depending on the severity.

If you notice any signs of symptoms that indicate your dog may be suffering from arthritis, call us on (08) 8340 0388 at Port Road Vet to see how we can help.

Arthritis In Dogs - Signs, Symptoms, Management & Treatment Of Osteoarthritis in Dogs (4)

Dr Emma Ruck holds a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from Massey University in Palmerston North. She has a particular interest in treating exotic pets and rabbits and is experienced and highly skilled in both the treatment and surgery of this patient niche. She also has a special interest in animal behaviour. Part of the Port Road family since 2018, she brings her passion for preventative healthcare and behaviour to the team.


What is the best treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs? ›

Dr. Lascelles said the four pillars of treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs are an effective analgesic such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, weight optimization, diet optimization, and exercise. The treatments are interdependent. An effective analgesic decreases pain, which allows for an increase in exercise.

How long do dogs live with osteoarthritis? ›

Arthritis is a long-term condition that needs life-long management. Arthritis slowly worsens over time, but if well managed, most dogs can live happily for many years after diagnosis.

Can a dog recover from osteoarthritis? ›

Osteoarthritis in dogs cannot be reversed or cured. Successful treatment of this condition reduces the pain caused by the affected joints, helps to slow the ongoing degeneration of the affected joints and allows your dog to live more comfortably, and enjoy a good quality of life as they continue to age.

How do you treat osteoarthritis in dogs naturally? ›

Natural Remedies for Dog Arthritis Pain
  1. Turmeric – As a type of spice rich in antioxidants, turmeric can help reduce inflammation and damage to your dog's joints. ...
  2. Comfrey – Comfrey has pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties.
3 Aug 2021

What is the best arthritis medicine for dogs? ›

Dogs and cats can take non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to combat their pain. These medications are of the same class as Aspirin and Ibuprofen that humans take, but they're formulated for pets. Rimadyl, Previcox, Metacam, Novox, and Piroxicam are popular choices.

How do you stop arthritis from progressing in dogs? ›

Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is a progressive disease and there is no known cure. Preventing the development of osteoarthritis through diet, exercise, and the use of protective joint supplements is the best way to keep your dog's joints healthy.

Should you walk your dog if they have arthritis? ›

Arthritic dogs will benefit from controlled exercise. Gentle regular lead walks are better than an hour spent running around after a ball or with another dog.

Do dogs feel pain with arthritis? ›

Osteoarthritis is a common ailment found in older dogs, as well as some larger breeds that are genetically prone to it. Similarly to humans, arthritis in dogs causes changes in the affected joints that can be incredibly painful for your pet.

What is the difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis in dogs? ›

What is the different between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in dogs? Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the synovial joints that includes inflammatory changes. Rheumatoid arthritis also includes inflammatory changes but is a disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's joints.

Is osteoarthritis the same as arthritis in dogs? ›

Arthritis and dogs. Old age arthritis (or osteoarthritis) is very common in both humans and dogs, and can be regarded as the same disease.

What is stage 4 arthritis in dog? ›

Severe Osteoarthritis (STAGE 4)

A dog often becomes restless when standing and may be reluctant to stand or move. Other signs include consistent severe lameness, weight shift and abnormal limb loading.

What is the difference between osteoarthritis and arthritis? ›

rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, involves the wearing away of the cartilage that caps the bones in your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of joints.

What is the most common traumatic cause of OA in dogs? ›

Traumatic injuries can occur at any age, and present the risk of inducing lifelong osteoarthritis in dogs. Car accidents are the most common source of bone trauma that results in cartilage damage.

What is the new injection for dogs with arthritis? ›

Hydrogel is a cutting-edge therapy for canine arthritis management. It is particularly effective in older dogs with chronic arthritis and we have seen excellent results from usage in more than 125 joint injections.

What foods make arthritis worse in dogs? ›

Just as in humans, grains can cause inflammation in dogs, as well. Wheat, rye, and barley all contain gluten, which can aggravate arthritis symptoms.

What can I give my dog at home for arthritis pain? ›

Glucosamine and chondroitin are the most commonly prescribed dog arthritis supplements. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound found in healthy dog cartilage that provides pain relief and acts as an anti-inflammatory for arthritic joints.

What is the best arthritis medicine for older dogs? ›

Here are 24 of the best arthritis supplements/treatments we have found for dogs.
  1. 1 – Pupper. ...
  2. 2 – Penguin CBD. ...
  3. 3 – Honest Paws Green Lipped Mussel Joint Powder. ...
  4. 4 – Plano Paws Glucosamine Mobility Chews. ...
  5. 5 – Vetz Petz's Antinol for Dogs. ...
  6. 6 – Nutramax Laboratories' Dasuquin. ...
  7. 7 – Nutramax Laboratories' Cosequin.
12 Oct 2022

Is there anything over-the-counter that I can give to my dog for arthritis pain? ›

Pupper Calming Chews. PetHonesty Hemp Mobility Chicken Flavored Soft Chew Joint Supplement for Senior Dogs. VetClassics Pain Plus Extra Strength Soft Chews Dog Supplement. NaturVet Senior Wellness Aches & Discomfort Plus Glucosamine Dog Supplement.

Is rest good for dogs with arthritis? ›

In summary, the best medical recommendation for dogs with arthritis is that they should exercise regularly, ideally 30-60 minutes every day, and not engage in high-impact activities such as running, jumping and rough play.

When should you put a dog down with arthritis? ›

Stage 4: Pain can be severe at this stage. Lack of mobility is a life threatening disease – dogs who can't get up or walk anymore usually are euthanized. This is the stage we are trying to prevent by intervening early. At this stage, the pet may resist, cry or even scream when the joint range of motion is tested.

Do dogs cry with arthritis? ›

The signs of arthritis in pets can often be subtle. Typically our pets will not cry or whine in pain. Instead, the most common signs of arthritis are changes in your pet's mobility or behavior. These signs may gradually creep up and go unnoticed until there are significant changes to your pet's mobility.

What causes arthritis to flare up in dogs? ›

The three main causes of osteoarthritis are: Wear and tear of the joints due to age, especially in overweight dogs. Joint damage in growing puppies, usually in larger breeds, due to some combination of genetics, over exercise, rapid growth and incorrect diet.

How much should you walk a dog with arthritis? ›

Light activities such as walking and swimming help strengthen muscles, keep ligaments and tendons flexible, prevent obesity and circulate blood to stiff joints. Keep them short but regular — 15-30 minutes of activities five days a week is a great start.

How do I tell if my dog is in pain? ›

What are the typical signs of pain in dogs? General behaviour: Shaking, flattened ears, low posture, aggression, grumpy temperament, panting or crying, excessive licking or scratching a specific area, reluctant to play, interact or exercise, lameness (limping), stiffness after rest, loss of appetite.

What are the 4 signs of osteoarthritis? ›

Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
  • Pain. Affected joints might hurt during or after movement.
  • Stiffness. Joint stiffness might be most noticeable upon awakening or after being inactive.
  • Tenderness. ...
  • Loss of flexibility. ...
  • Grating sensation. ...
  • Bone spurs. ...
  • Swelling.
16 Jun 2021

What are the 4 stages of osteoarthritis? ›

Arthritis in Knee: 4 Stages of Osteoarthritis
  • Stage 0 – Normal. When the knee shows no signs of osteoarthritis, it is classified as Stage 0, which is normal knee health, with no known impairment or signs of joint damage. ...
  • Stage 1 – Minor. ...
  • Stage 2 – Mild. ...
  • Stage 3 – Moderate. ...
  • Stage 4 – Severe.
28 Jan 2016

What can make osteoarthritis worse? ›

Being overweight or obese often makes osteoarthritis worse, as it places extra strain on some of your joints. To find out if you are overweight or obese, use the healthy weight calculator. If you're overweight or obese, try to lose weight by doing more physical activity and eating a healthier diet.

Can arthritis in dogs cause death? ›

Dog arthritis can be fatal especially among dogs that do not receive enough care. A dog's arthritis can lead to a reduced lifespan of the dog. However, you can lengthen the life of your arthritic dog by offering high-quality care.

Where does osteoarthritis occur in dogs? ›

Although any joint in a dog's body can be affected by arthritis, the most commonly affected joints are the hips, elbows, lower back, knees and wrists.

How long do arthritis injections last in dogs? ›

The initial course of injections typically provides 3 – 6 months of relief from the problems associated with osteoarthritis. After this time your veterinarian may recommend another course of 4 injections.

What is the new treatment for arthritis? ›

Otilimab. This investigational therapy is under evaluation in late-stage clinical trials and shows promise for reducing inflammation and relieving pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis. It works by suppressing an inflammatory protein called GM-CSF.

What do vets recommend for arthritis? ›

There are several different types of NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) that may be recommended by your veterinarian — every veterinarian has their own preference. Some commonly prescribed include Rimadyl® (carprofen), DeramaxxTM, Previcox®, Metacam®, and Galliprant®.

What helps an arthritic flare up in dogs? ›

10 Strategies to Ease Your Dog's Arthritis Pain
  1. Orthopedic Beds, Steps & Ramps. Provide orthopedic bedding away from cold or damp drafts. ...
  2. Massages & Body Work. ...
  3. Acupuncture & Eastern Medicine. ...
  4. Exercise & Water Therapy. ...
  5. Therapeutic Laser Treatment. ...
  6. Joint Supplements. ...
  7. Adequan Injections. ...
  8. Tramadol.
29 Mar 2022

How can I slow my dog's arthritis progression? ›

Non-medical approaches to minimize arthritic aches and pains include:
  1. Weight control. If your dog is overweight, this puts added stresses on joints, causing greater joint damage and more severe arthritis. ...
  2. Food. ...
  3. Exercise. ...
  4. Animal physical rehabilitation. ...
  5. Natural over-the-counter treatments. ...
  6. Acupuncture and massage.
19 Sept 2011

Should you walk a dog with arthritis? ›

Arthritic dogs will benefit from controlled exercise. Gentle regular lead walks are better than an hour spent running around after a ball or with another dog.

What natural product can I give my dog for arthritis? ›

Natural and Herbal Arthritis Remedies Procedure in Dogs
  • Comfrey. Comfrey has pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. ...
  • Frankincense. Frankincense is an all-around perfect herbal remedy. ...
  • Yucca. Yucca is often used in arthritis medications for humans as well as animals. ...
  • Alfalfa. ...
  • Turmeric. ...
  • Diet. ...
  • Exercise. ...
  • Supplements.

Are dogs in pain with arthritis? ›

Similarly to humans, arthritis in dogs causes changes in the affected joints that can be incredibly painful for your pet. Arthritis can occur in any joint, but is most commonly found in the shoulders, hips, elbows, and knees.

How can I strengthen my dogs back legs with arthritis? ›

Walking uphill activates the dog's hindquarters, so it is beneficial for dogs with arthritis in their hips or back legs. When the dog walks uphill, they extend their hip joint and activate the gluteals and hamstring group of muscles for propulsion. These muscles support the hip joint.


1. Osteoarthritis in dogs
2. How to Recognize Osteoarthritis in Your Dog and What to Do to Manage It
3. How to tell if your dog has arthritis
(Helpful Vancouver Vet)
4. Joint Problems in Dogs - Signs & Treatment for Arthritis in Dogs
(For Pet Lovers)
5. Spot the Signs of Canine Osteoarthritis in Your Dog
6. How To Know If Your Dog Is Experiencing Joint Pains
(Doc Ferds Recio)
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