Dog Arthritis - Understanding Arthritis in Dogs

Dog Arthritis Relief

Dog arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects one out of five dogs and in most cases, occurs most frequently in older dogs. However arthritis isn't confined to older dogs and can also strike your furry canine regardless of age, health or breed.

The most common form of arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis and is a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint, or age.

Types of Dog Arthritis

Arthritis takes many forms in our canine friends, including:

Osteoarthritis that is a progressive degenerative joint disease where the cartilage breaks down causing the bones to rub against each other and the result is dog joint pain and stiffness.

Hip Dysplasia is a genetic degenerative disease cause by a malformation of the hip sockets. Chronic inflammation of the joints occurs and the tissues surrounding the area begin to deteriorate and breakdown.

Elbow Dysplasia is also a degenerative hereditary disease where the bones do not form well and causes the bones to chip. It is considered to be hereditary and is seen as a common cause of front-leg lameness in larger breeds of dogs.

Knee Dysplasia is a malformation of the leg bones that causes the loosening of bone at the kneecap which is painful, and causes lameness and limping in your dog.

Hypertrophic Dog Arthritis is excessive bone growth or spurs in the joints.

Osteochondrosis results from poor breeding practices caused by a poor diet that leads to cartilage deterioration.

Degeneration of the Shoulders whereby unstable joint or trauma cause the breakdown of cartilage in the shoulder, leading to inflammation and pain on movement, and consequently, chronic canine arthritis that affects other parts of the body as well.

What Causes Arthritis in Dogs

Dog arthritis is common in older dogs that are overweight and inactive because their joint health has deteriorated over the years from wear and tear.

Younger dogs are not immune from dog arthritis either. Some are born with degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia, or simply have an accident that can cause arthritis and inflammation of the joints for the rest of its life.

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Signs and Symptoms

Degenrative arthritis is a painful condition and can make your dog's life miserable, therefore the sooner you detect the signs of dog arthritis, the faster you can adopt measures to slow its progression and help save your dog from further pain. Here is a rundown on some of the signs and symptoms that your dog may have athritis:

Canine Arthritis Symptoms
  • Stiffness, lameness, or limping after rest
  • Loss of appetite or unusual weight gain
  • Inactivity and sleeping a lot more
  • Relutance to walk, run or climb stairs
  • Unusual urinating in the house
  • Irritability and behavioural changes
  • Depressed or withdrawn

If your dog has any symptoms of canine arthritis, take it to a vet for a full diagnosis. Typical dog arthritis evaluation will involve some physical examinations, blood tests and X-rays. In some cases, a synovial (joint) fluid analysis may be performed if joint swelling is noticed.

Treatment of Dog Arthritis

Once you confirm that your dog has joint pain due to arthritis, you will need to know what you can do to help relieve the pain and minimize your pet's arthritic discomfort.

There are many ways to keep your dog's arthritis condition under control and to substantially improve the quality of your dog's life. Some treatment options available for canine arthritis include:

Physical Therapy

Light to moderate exercise is encouraged because it helps maintain your dog's muscle mass and perserves joint flexibilty. Swimming is an exccellent exercise that improves muscle mass without overstressing the joints. Overweight dogs should be encouraged to lose weight to delay the onset degenerative arthritis.


There are always conventional medications to treat arthritis and help relieve dog joint pain. The use of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and their anti-inflammatory properties can help provide rapid relief for your dog's arthritis pain, but they do not repair or heal cartilage. Medications like aspirin, vedaprofen, and meloxicam can be easily acquired from your vet

Other possible medication that your vet may prescribe for quick relief is steriods or oral glucocorticoids (corticosteriods) if your dog failed to respond well to NASIDs.

Note: Never give your dog any human form of medication such as common household aspirin. If you are going to give your dog aspirin or steriods for arthritis pain, make sure you understand the possible side effects that may affect your dog.

Possible Side Effects of Dog Arthritis Aspirin

Typical side effects of dog arthritis aspirin may include increased risk of kidney damage, life-threatening stomach punctures, bleeding, and gastro-intestinal problems such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Aspirin can also interact badly with other drugs that your dog is taking so make sure you let your vet know about any other medicines you are giving your pet.


Surgery is usually recommended as a last resort treatment for dogs with canine arthritis because the treatment is expensive and it may also cause even further pro-longed pain for your dog. Your vet will only suggest surgery when all other possible non-surgical treatments are exhausted to relieve your dog’s pain. The types of surgery available include joint repair, fusion, hip replacement and arthroscopic surgery.

Alternative Supplements for Arthritis Pain Relief and Joint Health

In the past, for many dogs that suffer from arthritis, it is usually a foregone conclusion that NSAIDS analgesic like aspirin or cortisone-like drugs will be prescribed to help your dog cope with the pain. However, in recent years, there have been newer treatments and safer remedies being introduced that will help your dog alleviate arthritic joint pain.

Supplements containing glucosamine sulphate or glucosamine hydrochloride (both commonly known as glucosamine for short) can be very helpful for dogs primarily where the joints are involved. Glucosamine is naturally present in animal bones and as a dietary supplement, it can help to promote new cartilage growth, relieve joints and muscle pain and improve joint mobility.

In a number of clinical studies, glucosamine has also been proven medically to be an effective alternative remedy in the treatment of both human and dog arthritis since there are no harmful side effects as compared to NSAIDS.

Sometimes, glucosamine for dogs is also sold in combination with other supplements such as chondroitin sulfate and methylsulfonylmethane to help maintain healthy joints in your dog.

Future Prevention

If your dog is diagnosed with canine arthritis, work with your vet to establish a holistic treatment plan to help your dog live each day as pain free as possible.

Dog Arthritis Treatment

Good healthy diets and proper exercise help your dog either avoid canine arthritis or reduce its affects.

A good healthy diet that prevents your dog from gaining too much weight is ideal. Diet is even more important when your dog is a puppy. Puppies need well-balanced, wholesome diets, with added calcium, to help minimize the likelihood of joint displacement. Adding omega 3 oil to the diet will also help to balance out its diet and add valuable vitamins and minerals it needs every day.

Contrary to what many people think, exercise is vital for dogs with arthritis. It should start out as gentle exercise to get your dog’s joints moving and progressively increase it as your dog’s fitness levels rise. Try gently massaging your dog’s painful joints to help restore the blood flow.

A dog with arthritic conditions can live normal, healthy lives and are better off out playing with a ball to keep their joints and muscles moving. A dog that gets little exercise puts on weight, and its joints and muscles seize up.

Buy a good orthopedic bed made for dogs with arthritis. Just like us, a dog’s painful joints may become inflame in cold weather so a good bed will keep your dog warm, support its weary bones and help your furry friend get a good night’s sleep.

Remembe as a dog owner, there is much you can do to make a huge difference in the quality of your dog’s life to help your dog lead a pain free life especially if he/or she is suffering from joint problems like dog arthritis.

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and treatments available.

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relieve joint pain as well as promote strong joints and bones in your dog.

Vitamins For Joint Health
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benefit your pet with joint pain.