How to recognise and treat dog arthritis

Arthritis isn’t just a disease that affects humans. Dog arthritis is also common too. While some breeds are more susceptible than others, it can affect any dog. Obese dogs are particularly at risk though, as they put greater strain on their joints.

Canine arthritis is a painful and usually permanent disease. It’s also progressive, meaning it gets worse over time.

Symptoms and treatment of dog arthritis

Dog arthritis symptoms

The most common form of canine arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is a result of the breakdown of cartilage from over-use.

The joints that are most often affected are the hip and shoulder joints and this affects mobility. So if your dog moves more slowly and/or struggles with stairs, they could be suffering from arthritis.

The same is true if you notice your dog loses interest in being outdoors and is no longer quite so keen for their walk. Other symptoms of dog arthritis include:

  • Sore and tender joints.
  • Visible swelling and deformity of the joints.
  • Your dog reacting with aggression if you touch their joints.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Depression.
  • Lack of energy.
  • More sleeping than normal.
  • Walking in an unusual way.

As the disease is progressive, the symptoms can be easy to miss at first but they will gradually worsen over time and become more noticeable.

Many of these symptoms are also not unique to arthritis and could indicate other problems instead. So it can be hard to identify arthritis early on.

It’s a good idea to get your dog checked out by the vet if you notice any of these symptoms, however small.


If your dog does have arthritis, your vet can prescribe pain relief medication. This will help your dog live a full life during their golden years. Physical therapy can also be used to ease the symptoms, in particular hydrotherapy.

In severe cases, surgery such as joint replacement may be performed.

Which dogs are at risk?

It’s a fact that most dogs will get arthritis at some point in life. That said, there are some contributing factors that will make matters worse.

The main one is overeating and lack of exercise. Overweight dogs are at greater risk due to the extra stresses placed on their joints and cartilage.

If your dog’s overweight, you should definitely put them on a diet and help them to lose weight. You should also put them on a regular exercise routine. This is especially true if your dog is a senior dog.

The other big factor when it comes to canine arthritis is your dog’s breed. Pure bred dogs tend to suffer from arthritis more than mixed breed dogs. And large and giant breeds are more likely to suffer than smaller breeds. This is because their greater body mass puts more strain on their joints.

Breeds with unusual body shapes, such as the Dachshund, are also more at risk of arthritis. The uneven distribution of weight puts greater stress on their hips and shoulders.

Breeds that are more susceptible to conditions such as hip dysplasia and patella luxation (many small breed dogs) are also at more risk.

Preventing dog arthritis

It’s unlikely your dog with be able to avoid arthritis completely. But there are a couple of steps you can take to lessen the effects.

Making sure your dog gets regular exercise and a good diet will be a great help.

As described earlier, being alert for your dog showing any symptoms of arthritis is also important. If you spot your dog showing any signs, get your vet to check them over so treatment can begin early.

Dog arthritis is a painful, progressive and debilitating condition. Be sure to address it at the first sign of any symptoms in your dog.

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