Arthritis in Dogs. Signs, Diagnosis, and Therapy.

There is a long list of sings indicating your dog may suffer from arthritis. While some dogs are limping, others don’t show any obvious signs of pain. Is your dog suffering from arthritis? This article will teach you how to read the signs of arthritis in your dog.

Arthritis is a common condition in dogs

One of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions in our canine companions is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). When a dog is diagnosed with osteoarthritis, it means that the affected joint is in a state of chronic inflammation. This will cause mobility issues and constant pain.

Although it is true that any joint in the body could potentially develop osteoarthritis, the most commonly affected joints in dogs are those in the limbs and lower spine.


Arthritis in dogs signs
Most commonly affected joints

What are the Signs of Arthritis in Dogs? 

Every dog owner knows to pay attention to any signs that might indicate something is wrong with their beloved pets. Dogs are unable to verbalize what they are experiencing and it’s up to us to interpret their behaviour. 

The signs of arthritis in dogs are extremely variable. Just like humans, every dog has a unique pain tolerance level. What could cause one dog to shriek in pain might not even make another dog flinch. Symptoms that might indicate your pup is suffering from joint pain caused by osteoarthritis include: 

  • Limping
  • Lethargy
  • Generalized Stiffness
  • Difficulty Getting Up
  • Difficulty Urinating Or Defecating
  • Yelping When Pet Lifted
  • Crankiness/Mood Changes
  • Reluctance To Play Favorite Games or To Go on Walks
  • Excessive Licking Of Specific Joint
  • Difficulty Finding Comfort
  • Frequent Vocalising

Many dogs are able to cope with osteoarthritis during the early stages, simply shifting their weight and adopting new postures. It’s not until the degeneration progresses that symptoms become obvious. 

Dog lying

Risk Factors That Increase Your Dogs Chances Of Developing Osteoarthritis

The reality is that any dog can develop osteoarthritis even at a young age. However, certain risk factors can increase the chances that your dog will develop degenerative joint disease. 

  1. Size: Giant breeds and large breed dogs are more likely to have difficulty with their joints. 
  2. Breed: All breeds have so-called genetic risk factors that increase their chance to develop a medical condition. For some breeds, like German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Mastiffs, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors, one of the frequently diagnosed medical conditions is osteoarthritis. 
  3. Obesity: Extra weight puts additional pressure on all the joints which could cause deterioration. 
  4. Athletic Activities: It’s fun for owners to become involved in canine sports like agility, flyball, or frisbee competitions. Keep in mind that repetitive impact and stress can damage joints, so monitor your canine athlete carefully. 
  5. Previous Injuries: Fractured bones or ligament tears can damage the joints and increase the chance that osteoarthritis will develop later on. 
  6. Age: Although dogs of every age can be diagnosed with osteoarthritis, age is a risk factor. The older the dog, the more likely they are to suffer from joint pain. 

How Can I Help My Dog If They’ve Been Diagnosed With Osteoarthritis? 

In addition to seeking proper medical care for your dog, there are steps that you can take yourself to help your dog manage their joint pain better. 

  1. Help Your Dog Lose Weight (If Necessary): If your dog is overweight, a strict diet and restricting the number of treats they get is an essential step.
  2. Invest In Supportive Bedding: There are many wonderful pet beds on the market. Be sure to research what type of bed fits your pet’s needs. 
  3. Consider Installing Ramps: If your pet needs to navigate stairs, you might consider building or purchasing ramps that can be used to make their entries and exits a bit more comfortable. 
  4. Raise The Food And Water Bowls: If your dog is experiencing stiffness and pain in their neck or lower back, raising their food and water bowls so they don’t need to bend down is very beneficial. 

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Sufficient pain relief is the most important factor in the successful management of arthritis.

Please do not try to treat your dog’s pain with human medications as painkillers used to treat human pain may be toxic for dogs!

Your veterinarian will examine your dog and prescribes sufficient pain medication. Make sure your dog receives the correct dose over the recommended period of time.

Natural Healing Methods for Arthritis in Dogs

  • Acupuncture is a useful tool to provide natural pain relief without the risk of negative side effects.
  • Here is an easy to follow instruction on how to treat your dog with Acupressure.
  • Physiotherapy, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic Care can be used to treat pain and to improve mobility
  • Laser Therapy can be used to bring down the inflammation and to soothe the pain.
  • Supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect and can help to improve your dog’s mobility.


– Felix


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