Dog Arthritis: Relieving Your Dog's Pain

Dog with owner | Arthritis in dogs |

  • Drugs can help reduce the pain and make the dog walk comfortably.
  • Affects dogs after an injury.
  • Managing your dog’s weight and regular exercise can help alleviate the pains.
  • Arthritis is most common in older dogs.

The Causal Agents of Dog Arthritis

If you are reading this for the first time, then it might come as a surprise for you to find out that arthritis is an infection that man’s best friend tends to battle with too. I guess Arthritis affects humans in more than one way – figuratively speaking of course! Trust me when I say this can also be painful for these innocent souls too just as it is with humans. In this article, we won’t just tell you what this disease is, we will also be sharing with you the causal agents and how to go about managing and treating it.

So, let's do a quick 101 on this. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints which is most common for dogs. If you don’t have a dog that currently suffers from this, you should have a neighbour or friend or even your closest family who has a dog suffering from Arthritis.

To make you understand this, let me paint a graphical illustration. Basically, inside a dog’s joints are bone surfaces that are usually covered with a thin layer of very smooth cartilage, lubricated with little joint fluid which is known to allow both surfaces to glide with ease over each other with less friction. Now, dogs who suffer this painful condition, cartilage within the joint undergoes a slight fault or change, which as a result becomes less smooth and that would lead to the two bone surfaces rubbing together. This will not only cause discomfort in the particular dog, but it will also further damage the cartilage coupled with new bones developing around the joints which will make the joint stiffer, and obstruct the free movement of the dog. This happens mostly with aged dogs. One thing with age is that the more you grow the more some cells start to deteriorate, the same thing applies here. An aged dog will start having weakened joints with dead cartilage cells. This death would then create inflammation in the joints.

The question I’m sure you are about to ask is “what causes this?”.

Weimaraner Puppy | Dog Arthritis |

What causes arthritis?

Even though we talked about aged dogs being mostly affected by this disease, it still doesn’t change the fact that this problem sometimes starts to develop from an early age which is caused by the bones and joint not developing properly. The major causes of arthritis are:

  • The dog having an injury such as broken bones or ligament damage.
  • Under-development of joints at a young age – just as we mentioned earlier. Then finally;
  • Hip dysplasia – a form of deformity of the joints which is mostly caused by poor breeding.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Arthritis in dogs | Infographic

The symptoms of arthritis don’t come out at once, they dangerously grow and gets worse with time. One of the first things you’d notice is the slow movement in that dog; when they don’t walk as fast as they used to in the past. Playing becomes difficult they will hardly climb elevated surfaces. You will know that a dog is suffering from this disease when you start to notice

  • Licking or sometimes chewing on the painful spot.
  • Muscle wasting.
  • They get tired easily.
  • Limping and Lameness.
  • Stiff gait, which would get worse after exercising or first waking up.
  • When it groans while laying down/getting up.
  • Become too sensitive to touch on that spot.
  • Irritability.

These are the major signs they show when they suffer from this disease.

Can it be diagnosed?

Yes of course! Once you start noticing this with your dog then its time to take it to your vet for a checkup. Vets sometimes diagnose arthritis in dogs based on the history of symptoms and will have to do a physical examination to ascertain the area then test for stiffness, the pain and swelling on that joint. In a case where it’s a young dog that is suffering/ battling with this disease, there might be a need for joint surgery. Surgeries are very helpful at this young age. To find out the causal agents, X-rays and scans will be done to establish the underlying cause. If it’s a joint infection, the vet will work on small sample gotten from the affected joint and may sometimes ask for a blood sample. Blood samples are necessary to help rule out some medical conditions that are tied to having arthritis.

The Treatment

The sad part is that there isn’t any cure for now, but not to worry! The pain can be managed by using painkillers and anti-inflammatories. When the pain is reduced, mobility becomes relatively possible and it will also maintain supports for muscle mass.

When it comes to managing the symptoms, it is important to always look out for the weight of the dog, managing the weight will go a long way to help reduce the pain and symptoms too.

You can also take advantage of anti-inflammatory therapy which could be for some weeks or months depending on the depth of the problem. It is no gainsaying that long-term drug therapy has helped provide the relief for lots of patients. The Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common once; at the early stage of treating arthritis, relieving the pain is the most important part.

Are medications available?

It depends. For instance, if your dog has arthritis and it has been diagnosed by your vet, the dog may require treatment on a daily basis. With the different treatment in terms of medication and the timescale in different dogs. This would give your dog the proper and well-suited solution it needs.

When it comes to drugs, there are three main families that are known to have successfully treated arthritis in dogs. They include Pentosan Polysulphate, Polysulphated Glycosaminoglycans and lastly, the hyaluronic acid). These three are known to help cartilage deterioration and they also help fix joint structures and reduce the pain of inflammation while at it. another suitable option would be to use Joint supplements combined with any prescription medicines which should be prescribed by your vet.

There are new drugs that are been developed every day to help combat this painful disease. So, to successfully manage the pain, you may need to do a regular review and research and the current medication with detailed progress from the owner.

How to treat arthritis in dogs

There are other ways to manage this pain and alleviate it. the reason why it is difficult to successfully cure arthritis is that it is hard remodeling joints, and might take surgical means. The important thing to note here is that these medications listed below can have an adverse effect if not taken the right way. Also, ensure that it is prescribed by your vet.


Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs can improve the health of an arthritis patient. But you have to make sure that it's not the ones that are intended for humans. There have been lots of reports of NSAIDs that are meant for humans taken by dogs resulting in a serious side effect. That is why I always advise dog owners to make sure that this drug is given to your dog under the supervision of your dog.


Dexamethasone, Prednisone and some other corticosteroids will drastically reduce all forms of inflammatory, especially in arthritic joints. The only bad side to this option is that long-term use of steroids is contributing to more joint damage. I intentionally placed it last because it seems vets no longer prescribe this option to arthritis patient any more thanks to other advanced treatment that are been developed in today’s world. Corticosteroids have bad effects when they interact with other medication in the dog’s body.

 Dog on couch | Arthritis in dogs |

Treating Arthritis with these Natural Steps

Apart from the prescribed drugs, steroids and non-steroids. There are natural ways of treating this disease. They include:

The fat

As we said earlier, the weight of the dog usually contributes to the pain it feels. That is if we are looking at it from one side. The other part of fat that we need to take note of is the one found in your dog’s diet. This fat affects most (if not all) of the cell in its body. if your pet doesn’t get enough fat or gets the wrong balance of fats, the effect on your pet’s body can be very bad.

To help reduce inflammation, it's important that your dog eat more of grass-fed animals rather than factory – farmed or grain – fed animals. Adding omega – 3 is another option if you need to balance the fats in your dog’s diet.

Add Antioxidants

These are the molecules that help prevent the cell damage free radicals cause. Antioxidants have anti-aging effects which help make sure your bone and cells don’t wear out. In short, they help wick out rustiness from your dog’s body.

Can it actually be prevented?

The answer to that is not as straightforward as most of the arthritis cases happens as a result of aging. We all know aging is a natural phenomenon that can’t be stopped, that is why using antioxidants is a good option to help prevent aging in your dog’s system. A healthy diet can also do the trick.

Where to go if I need more advice?

If you’ll need help on knowing more about this visit your local vet for detailed information and prevention plan. Also we sell pet beds and pet accessories such as the orthopedic pet bed which is great for dogs with arthritis. This kind of bed gives your pet the relief it needs.

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