Arthritis in Dogs: Common Signs and Treatments

Arthritis is a common problem in many dogs, as they age, the surface of cartilage of their joints begins to thin and cartilage cells die. A post on HealthCanal says that 20% of dogs suffer from joint issues during their lifetime. The dying cells release enzymes that can cause inflammation of the joint capsule and release excessive joint fluid again. Soon the bone beneath the cartilage starts to deteriorate and this including the other changes severely affects the normal functioning of the dog’s joints and causes stiffness and pain.

Causes of arthritis

As stated earlier the cause of the erosion of cartilage at the ends of their bones usually occurs with growing age, nonetheless, this condition can develop from an early age with bone and joint development problems. Most cases arise from:

  • Fracture in the area near the joint
  • Ligament damage leading to joint instability
  • Obesity 
  • Anormal development, for example, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, etc. 

It is better to look out for obesity in your dogs as it not only leads to arthritis but can also cause a number of health issues such as liver, kidney, heart problems, and diabetes.

Common signs of arthritis in dogs


After a long period of rest, your dog might show signs of stiffness or favoring one leg over the other. Your pet may even experience lameness in one or both hind legs if the spine is affected. 


Being in constant pain can reasonably make your lovely pup turn into an old grumpy man. This can be confirmed if you notice them snapping or biting whenever someone tries to touch them, and this behavior may turn for worse if they are handled in a way that magnifies their pain. 


Arthritic pets tend to pay special attention to painful joints, they lick the area of pain quite often. You can see signs of saliva staining, hair loss, or inflammation around the area.

Decreased activity

Your dog experiences pain every time it moves, as a consequence, they get reluctant to move or exercise. The swiftness they showed earlier is nowhere to be seen and they will now prefer to spend more time resting or sleeping. Another sign of tiredness is that they will stop following you around and spend their time in quiet areas of the home. 

Unfortunately, if you happen to notice any of these symptoms in your dogs, then it is best to book an appointment with the vet as soon as possible. Since dogs, unlike humans, are not able to communicate their pain, it is completely their owner’s responsibility to look for any such signs. 


The truth is that arthritis in dogs cannot be cured completely, but its symptoms can be alleviated to a certain degree to ease the dog’s pain. Here are some options through which you can treat your dog: 

Diet control

Listed as one of the causes of arthritis, obesity should be first tackled within older dogs. Overweight dogs are at the risk of faster deteriorating joints than dogs of a healthy weight. It is better to follow a vet’s advice. Arthritic dogs are very reluctant to exercise, but vets can offer a better exercise plan on how much and what types of exercise your dog can perform and tolerate. 

Vet consultation 

Along with dietary supplements, anti-inflammatory medications are also used to help reduce inflammation and manage any pain related to arthritis. Keep in mind to follow the dosage instructions and ask your vet if the medication might have any potential side effects. Long-term medications require you to check up with lab work on a regular basis to make sure that liver and kidney functions are not affected negatively. 

Make environmental changes

You can put a ramp to ease your dog’s access to the couch or bed, and raise their food and water bowl so that they don’t have to bend too low to reach them. Providing an orthopedic bed will immensely help your dog’s joints and bones. Placing rugs or carpets over slippery floors is also a thoughtful change as that’ll make your dog much steadier on its legs. 


Massages are a great way to increase flexibility and stimulate blood flow to atrophying muscles. You can either hire a professional for this or knead your dog’s stiff muscles on your own, just be mindful about avoiding direct pressure on their joints. Warm compresses also help to soothe sore joints. Adding CBD to the routine is a wise choice that can not only help them enjoy the benefits of being massaged but also ease the pain effectively. Many studies cited on this page show many benefits CBD has to offer. It’s a great source to learn if you are considering applying CBD to your dog.

Dogs are indeed man’s best friend, they run around and keep up with their owners for as long as they can but alas they have their limitations as well. Thus, the best way for you to repay that favor would be to ensure your dog’s health in their old age by maintaining them with excellent nutrition and appropriate exercises to maintain their ideal weight. 

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