Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs (2023)

Arthritis is a common health issue for dogs as they get older that can seriously interfere with their quality of life. If your dog is having trouble jumping up on the couch, walking up or down the stairs, or unable to walk without limping or trembling, this degenerative joint disease may be at the root of the problem.

What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?

Just like people, dogs have cartilage at the ends of their bones within the joints that serve to cushion the impact between the bones as they move around. As dogs get older, this cartilage can erode and weaken, which can lead to inflammation and pain. Arthritis can also be influenced by other factors, including:

  • Developmental issues that cause the joint to develop improperly, such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or luxating patella
  • An earlier fracture in the area of the joint
  • Previous rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) in the knee that weakens the joint
  • Obesity—this extra weight puts pressure on the joints and damages the cartilage

In addition to arthritis, obesity can cause a number of health issues, like kidney, liver, or heart problems, as well as diabetes. It’s essential to help your dog maintain a healthy weight through proper nutrition and exercise.

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs (1)

(Video) How Can You Tell if Your Dog has Arthritis: top 10 symptoms

Dogs at Risk for Arthritis

Any dog can develop arthritis, but it is more common in older dogs and large breeds, such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and Great Danes. It can also occur more often in breeds with hereditary conditions linked to arthritis. For instance, Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers tend to have luxating patella, and Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Saint Bernards, and Labrador Retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia.

Dog Arthritis Symptoms

Many dog parents find themselves asking the question, “Can arthritis in dogs come on suddenly?”

The symptoms of arthritis in dogs often start slowly and get worse over time. Dog parents may miss the early stages of the disease when their four-legged friends are experiencing only a small amount of discomfort. However, as the disease progresses and pain increases, it will become more evident that something is wrong. Some of the signs of arthritis in dogs include:

  • Stiffness and difficulty getting up from a sitting or lying down position
  • Limping, trembling, or tenderness when walking
  • Trouble climbing stairs or jumping up on couches and chairs
  • Less interest in going for walks or engaging in other activities
  • Behavioral changes, like increased irritability, that occur in response to the pain

If your dog is older, you might think some of these signs are a natural part of the aging process. However, you shouldn’t ignore them, since treatments for arthritis are available and can help your dog get along more comfortably.

(Video) How to tell if your dog has arthritis

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs (2)

Diagnosing Arthritis in Dogs

To diagnose arthritis, your veterinarian will perform a physical exam and check the joint areas for pain. Blood tests and X-rays may be ordered to rule out other ailments, such as bone cancer. These diagnostic tests will show how severely the joints have been affected and help guide the treatment plan.

Treating Dog Arthritis

Upon learning that your dog has this condition, one of your first thoughts may be, “How long can a dog live with arthritis?” There is no one answer to this question since each dog’s health and diagnosis can differ from one another. However, it is important to know that arthritis in dogs can’t be cured. The good news is that there are ways to help treat the pain and make everyday activities easier for the dog. Although you and your dog’s daily lifestyle may look a little different your canine companion can still live a long and happy life with proper treatment.

Prescription Medications

Your veterinarian may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also called NSAIDs, to help reduce inflammation and manage the pain related to arthritis. If your vet prescribes medication for your dog, be sure you clearly understand and follow the dosage instructions.

(Video) Treating Arthritis in Dogs - a plan to keep them pain free!

You should also ask about potential side effects, such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, or vomiting, and find out what to do if they appear. Keep in mind that most long-term medications require follow-up lab work on a regular basis to ensure that liver and kidney functions have not been compromised.

Does your dog refuse to take medication? Get some tips and tricks to giving your dog a pill.

Weight Loss

Dogs who are overweight or obese are especially sensitive to the pain of arthritis. If your dog is arthritic, ask your veterinarian to recommend a safe weight loss program that includes both diet and exercise. Dogs with severe arthritis may be limited physically, but your vet can offer advice on how much and what types of exercise your dog can tolerate.

If your arthritic dog is already at a healthy weight, you should take precautions to maintain it. Your dog may resist exercising due to discomfort and start putting on weight before you know it. You may need to adjust your dog’s caloric intake or find some new ways to make exercise fun and less uncomfortable. You should also avoid the temptation to offer extra treats and goodies even if you feel bad for your painful pooch.

(Video) 6 natural anti- inflammatory foods for Arthritis and joint pain (your dog will love you)

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs (3)

Environmental Support

You can make adjustments around your home to help make life a little easier for your dog. For example:

  • Install ramps or steps – Put in ramps or pet steps to help your dog get to favorite resting spots, like on the couch or bed.
  • Raise food and water bowls – Use a small shelf or sturdy box to raise food and water bowls so your dog can reach them more easily without bending down.
  • Get a pet bed – Buy a soft pet bed, if you don’t have one already, so your dog can comfortably rest.
  • Add carpeting for better traction – Consider putting in carpeting or secure rugs to help your dog gain traction and stay steady on their feet.
  • Assist your dog – Help your dog manage by carrying your pooch up the stairs or lift them into the car whenever possible.

If you lift or carry your dog, be careful you don’t injure yourself, especially if your four-legged friend is of the larger variety. And take care not to irritate inflamed arthritic joints. Not only will you cause your dog discomfort, but you could also cause an accident or injury since your dog might jump out of your arms or nip at you if gripped by sudden pain.

Natural Supplements

There are natural supplements available that may help your dog’s arthritis. These include glucosamine and chondroitin, which can help support joint health and rebuild cartilage. You should always talk with your veterinarian about any supplements you are considering before giving them to your dog.

(Video) Physiotherapy at Home for Dog with Arthritis

Surgical Options

Surgery can be an option, but it is often only used as a last resort since it comes with its own set of risks and complications. For instance, hip replacement surgery might be recommended if the hip is badly deformed in some advanced cases. This surgery has a long recovery period but can be successful in relieving joint pain.

Alternative Therapies

Dogs with arthritis may benefit from various alternative therapies such as massage, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, or acupuncture. Your vet can offer guidance on whether any of these treatments might benefit your dog. Some alternative therapies used to treat eligible conditions can even be covered by pet health insurance.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

FAQs

What are the signs and symptoms of arthritis in dogs? ›

The most common signs dog owners may notice include:
  • Difficulty getting up and down.
  • Walking stiffly.
  • Lameness in one or more legs.
  • Reluctance to go up and/or down stairs.
  • Reluctance to jump up or down (onto/off furniture or into/out of a vehicle)
  • Stiff, swollen, or sore joints.

How do dogs act when they have arthritis? ›

Stiffness and difficulty getting up from a sitting or lying down position. Limping, trembling, or tenderness when walking. Trouble climbing stairs or jumping up on couches and chairs. Less interest in going for walks or engaging in other activities.

How do I know if my dogs arthritis is getting worse? ›

There may be lameness, or there may just be inactivity – the owner notices the pet is “slowing down.” This is often because more than one area is sore and it's difficult to limp on more than one leg. Inactivity is often a glaring sign of pain, should we choose to recognize it.

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 long can a dog with arthritis live? ›

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.

Should dogs walk 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.

What is the best thing for dogs with arthritis? ›

Physical therapy, like appropriate forms of regular exercise, as mentioned earlier can be extremely beneficial for dogs with arthritis. Many owners also find hydrotherapy, or water therapy, helpful. Holistic therapies, like acupuncture, can be useful as well.

How quickly does arthritis progress in dogs? ›

Since the degeneration of the joints and increase in joint inflammation tend to be progressive over time, dogs may go through various stages of osteoarthritis. Sometimes arthritis progresses quickly and other times that progression may take years.

Where does dog arthritis start? ›

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.

What age do most dogs get arthritis? ›

Dogs can start to show signs of arthritis as early as 1 year of age. According to the Vet Times (pdf), the degenerative joint condition can be found in 20% of dogs before their first year and 80% of more senior dogs at or over age 8.

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.

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 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 is a natural remedy for arthritis in dogs? ›

Natural Herbs and Supplements to Help Arthritis in Dogs

“The ancient Indian herbs, turmeric and boswellia are fantastic anti-inflammatories” Bernard notes, “And so are the omega-3 fatty acids found in krill, sardine, or flaxseed oils.

Can you reverse dog arthritis? ›

There is no cure for osteoarthritis and reversing the disease process is unfortunately not possible at this point (neither in pets nor in people). The best treatment for arthritis is prevention, and understanding osteoarthritis is important even if your pet may not have significant arthritis at this point.

Can dogs recover arthritis? ›

Can arthritis be cured? Unfortunately not. Once cartilage in your dog's joint(s) has been damaged it rarely repairs itself completely. But many pets can successfully be made pain free by appropriate long-term use of medication and sensible management to control further deterioration.

What natural pain relief can I give my dog? ›

Natural Pain Relief for Dogs
  • Hot and Cold Therapy.
  • ​Ginger.
  • Turmeric.
  • Boswellia.
  • Devil's Claw.
  • CBD Oil.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Fish Oil.

What over the counter medicine is good for dog arthritis? ›

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, help reduce swelling, stiffness, and joint pain in humans, and they can do the same for your dog.
...
There are some of the available NSAIDs just for dogs:
  • carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl)
  • deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • firocoxib (Previcox)
  • meloxicam (Metacam )
  • grapipant (Galliprant)
23 Jan 2022

Can arthritis just come on suddenly in dogs? ›

Oftentimes the terms “arthritis” or “arthritic joints” is associated with older dogs. This particular type of arthritis can occur in any age of dog, as it is directly the result of an infection caused by an outside source. The symptoms of this type of arthritis may be more sudden than other arthritis forms.

What dogs breeds get arthritis? ›

Breeds that are more prone to arthritis are:
  • Labradors (hips and elbows)
  • Springer Spaniels (hips and elbows)
  • German Shepherds (spine, hips, elbows)
  • Golden Retrievers (hips)
  • Rottweilers (hips and elbows)
  • Bernese mountain dogs (hips and elbows)

Which dog breeds are more prone to arthritis? ›

Certain large breed dogs are more prone to arthritis and decreased mobility. Those dog breeds include Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers, German shepherds and Rottweilers. Excess weight on your dog means excess stress on the joints and cartilage, which can lead to arthritis and joint health problems.

What is good for older dogs with arthritis? ›

If your dog is diagnosed with arthritis, your veterinarian can recommend nutraceuticals such as fish oil, glucosamine, MSM, MicroLactin (Duralactin), and herbal supplements, or prescribe daily pain medication to keep her comfortable.

Do heating pads help dogs with arthritis? ›

Benefits of heat:

Heat is a great way to reduce pain, joint stiffness, and muscle spasms. It also improves blood flow especially in dogs with injuries and osteoarthritis.

Do eggs help with arthritis in dogs? ›

Egg shells can help older arthritic dogs. Egg shell membranes significantly reduced joint pain and improved joint function in 51 dogs experiencing a range of joint problems, according to a 2016 study.

Is banana good for dogs with arthritis? ›

Bananas contain Vitamin C, which fights against inflammation, arthritis, infections, kennel cough, and glaucoma. Also, Vitamin C helps your dog to recover from injuries faster.

What food is a natural anti-inflammatory for dogs? ›

  • Start with the Right Ingredients. "Inflammation is a normal process of the body used by the immune system to combat foreign organisms like bacteria, viruses, and irritants. ...
  • Glucosamine. Start with glucosamine, which Dr. ...
  • Turmeric. ...
  • Ginger. ...
  • Alfalfa. ...
  • Blueberries. ...
  • Mangoes and Papaya. ...
  • Coconut.
1 Feb 2021

What is a home remedy anti-inflammatory for dogs? ›

Turmeric. Perhaps the best-known and most widely used medicinal herb to treat joint pain and inflammation is turmeric. Studies in both humans and animals seem to confirm the many benefits of curcumin, one of the active ingredients in turmeric.

What is the best treatment for dogs with arthritis? ›

Physical therapy, like appropriate forms of regular exercise, as mentioned earlier can be extremely beneficial for dogs with arthritis. Many owners also find hydrotherapy, or water therapy, helpful. Holistic therapies, like acupuncture, can be useful as well.

What is the best thing to give your dog for arthritis? ›

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) play a major role in controlling dog joint pain and inflammation. Prescription medications such Galliprant, Carprofen, and Meloxicam are the safest options for controlling pain and inflammation compared to over-the-counter, non-veterinary products.

At what age do dogs show signs of arthritis? ›

Dogs can start to show signs of arthritis as early as 1 year of age. According to the Vet Times (pdf), the degenerative joint condition can be found in 20% of dogs before their first year and 80% of more senior dogs at or over age 8.

What does an arthritis flare up look like in dogs? ›

Signs to look for include:

Swelling in affected joints; if a joint appears swollen or feels hot to the touch. This will often be associated with pain and they may react when you touch the area. Joint infection can also cause similar signs so if you notice this, you should always contact your vet.

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.

What over-the-counter medicine is good for dog arthritis? ›

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, help reduce swelling, stiffness, and joint pain in humans, and they can do the same for your dog.
...
There are some of the available NSAIDs just for dogs:
  • carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl)
  • deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • firocoxib (Previcox)
  • meloxicam (Metacam )
  • grapipant (Galliprant)
23 Jan 2022

Does Benadryl help dogs with arthritis? ›

Benadryl doesn't relieve dog pain, so you should talk to your vet about other treatment options.

Videos

1. SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT OF ARTHRITIS IN DOGS
(Veterinary Network)
2. Dog Knee Arthritis: 5 Natural Solutions
(Veterinary Secrets)
3. Six Signs your dog has Arthritis and How to Help Him
(its not just dogs)
4. Arthritis In Dogs – 7 Common Signs, Symptoms And Treatment Options
(Emergency Vets USA)
5. What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis In Dogs?
(The Dog Book Company)
6. Canine Arthritis | Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments | Dr. Bill's Pet Nutrition | The Vet Is In
(Dr. Bill's Pet Nutrition)
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