Arthritis in Dogs, What is it?

Arthritis in dogs, also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD), is a very common degenerative condition of the joints in dogs.  There are actually a few different types of arthritis, but the focus of this article is osteoarthritis.  It tends to occur most commonly in the hip, elbow, stifle (knee), carpus (wrist), and intervertebral joints (spine), although it can raise it’s ugly head any place in the body where you have a joint and some cartilage.

arthritis dog

The most common sites of  arthritis in dogs

Arthritis can occur for a variety of reasons, including trauma, abnormal loads on joints, and congenital abnormalities like dysplasia.  Commonly it is simply due to wear and tear of the cartilage within the joints.  For this reason it tends to strike older dogs most frequently.  Cats are also afflicted, but tend to be better at hiding their discomfort.  I will discuss our feline friends in another post.

So cartilage is a lovely shock absorber, and when it’s damaged or absent, we end up with bones rubbing against each other, which is seriously painful (it makes me shudder just thinking about it!) and creates inflammation.

dog hips dysplasia arthritis

Osteoarthritis in canine hips

Of the four hips pictured above, only the one with the red arrow is normal.  See how the ball is lovely and round and sits nicely in the socket?  That dog’s other (left) hip is subluxated, which means it’s not sitting all the way in the socket.  Hopefully anyone can see that both of the hips in the right hand photo are flipping awful.  This is severe DJD.  The balls are no longer round at all and don’t sit in their sockets.  There are a lot of changes to the bone as a result of chronic instability and abnormal loads.  Interestingly (or frustratingly!) the changes we see on xray don’t always correlate well with the degree of discomfort the patient is in.  Sometimes fairly normal looking hips are painful, and while occasionally dogs with atrocious radiographs seem to get around pretty well.

dog elbow arthritis

Elbow osteoarthritis in a dog

Elbows tend to be a little more subtle than hips.  The one on the left is normal.  The one on the right is showing signs of arthritis, the most obvious of which I’ve pointed at with the red arrows.  It sort of looks like fluffy bone where there should be a nice smooth surface, and the easiest way to appreciate it is to compare to the normal one.

What are the Signs of Arthritis in Dogs?

There are a lot of possible signs that your dog’s joints are causing pain.  Some of them are often mistakenly attributed to inevitable old age changes by owners.  If your dog is showing any of the signs listed below, make an appointment with your vet so you can work together to improve your 4-legged friend’s quality of life.

signs of arthritis in dogs

So here is my overview of the seven things I discuss with pet owners for helping their arthritic dogs.  Don’t forget that even though I’m very awesome and mostly know what I’m on about, my written advice is general and is no substitute for your own vet.

arthritis in dogs

 

one

Maintain Appropriate Body Weight

Say NO to Portly Pups and Hefty Hounds!

If there is just one thing you can do for the well being and comfort of your dog, keep those numbers on the scales in the healthy range.  It’s just common sense that the greater the load on the joints, the harder they have to work, and therefore the more painful life is for the arthritic dog.  Work out the healthy weight range for your dog then get to work on achieving it.  Some very caring pet owners simply don’t realise that their dog is a little tubby, so here is a great body condition score chart from WSAVA that provides a general guide.

Download (PDF, 1.3MB)

My rule of thumb when examining a dog is that I want to be able to feel their ribs, but generally not see them protruding, and when looking down from above I want to see a nice waistline rather than a barrel shape!  A great resource for keeping dogs at a healthy weight is the fantastic Slim Doggy, where you will find dog food data, a calorie tracking app, and loads of helpful tips about feeding and exercise.  I highly recommend it.  You don’t have to be cruel to be kind, its just a matter of taking responsibility for your dog’s nutrition and getting everyone in the household on board.  It’s well worth the effort – remember, food does not equal love.

two

Pull on Those Walking Shoes!

As you can imagine, lying around all day is not great for stiff, sore joints.  Moderate exercise is critically important.  The question is, what does ‘moderate exercise’ mean? Well the answer varies depending on the dog.  For my Border Collie, Anika, it’s a fairly brisk 40 minute walk every day.  During this time she happily trots along in front of me, baby and toddler, but if I ask her to do much more she starts to lag behind. Not bad given it’s her 12th birthday today! (Excuse me while I go and ugly cry for a bit, my baby’s getting old!)

walk with dog and kids

She doesn’t look a day over 5, right?…

Ok, tissues away, where was I..  For many other dogs, that sort of walk would be WAAAY too much.  Some may benefit just from ambling down to the mail box and back.  If you have access to hydrotherapy, some dogs (particularly those recovering from surgery) may really benefit from swimming or walking on an underwater treadmill.  The key is to watch them and recognize what they can do comfortably without overdoing it and ending up much more sore.  If you need some guidance with this your vet can help.  If you have a couple of steps your dog needs to navigate regularly and they are having trouble with, it’s pretty easy for someone handy to knock together a little ramp.

three

Keep ’em Cosy: Provide Shelter from Wind, Rain and Cold

wet dog

Image credit: “Wet Dog” by Citizen 4474 on Flickr

Particularly during cold weather, it’s so important to protect your dog from the elements.  Here in Melbourne we don’t get snow, but I know I wouldn’t want to be lying out in the open overnight during winter, even if I did have a nice thick fur coat.  Protection from rain is important, but we also need to realise that if the wind is blowing straight into the dog house, it’s going to be freezing in there.  Obviously the best place for a furry family member to be sleeping is inside, but if your dog sleeps outside, it’s up to you to ensure they are warm enough.  Check kennels regularly to ensure they are clean, dry and comfortable.

 four

A Comfortable, Padded Place to Sleep!

dog on sofa

I don’t mean a cell, although I do question Ani’s sanity on a pretty regular basis!

 This one is pretty straightforward.  A bit of padding under stiff, sore joints can make things a lot more comfortable.  Memory foam beds are a good option as they mold and contour to your dog’s body, reducing pressure on those arthritic joints.  It’s also helpful if the bed is easy to get in and out of.  Sounds obvious, but it’s important that it’s not too high, too soft, or has sides that make it difficult to climb onto.

five

Consider Dietary Supplements

So we’re mainly talking glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate.  You may have heard of them if you yourself or someone you know has arthritis, as many humans use these products too.  They are extracted from sea molluscs (such as New Zealand Green-lipped mussel), from shark skeleton, and from cattle.   They support that all important cartilage structure,  reducing further deterioration, suppressing inflammation, and reducing free radical damage.  An example of a veterinary product is Cosequin.  Products designed for humans can be bought over the counter, but are not all created equal, so it is worth discussing this with your veterinarian.

Omega-3 fatty acid (OFA) supplements may also be beneficial.  Rather than adding several fish oil capsules to your dogs meal every day, another way to get a great dose of  OFAs into your dog is to feed a diet that already has them built into it, such as Hills j/d.

hill's j/d prescription diet

 

six

A Big Word for a Little Injection: Glycosaminoglycans

syringe bottle dog

 

A name many will be familiar with is Adequan.  Others here in Australia include Cartrophen, Pentosan, and Synovin.  These drugs are described as ‘disease modifying osteoarthritis drugs’ but are actually more like ‘nutriceuticals’ than  drugs.  They are very safe and pets are very unlikely to experience any side effects.  They’re also relatively inexpensive.  Interestingly, the exact way that they work has yet to be elucidated.  There are also no big, well designed clinical trials that confirm their effectiveness (that I have been able to find).  Having said that, there is loads and loads of anecdotal evidence amongst vets and dog owners, and I believe I have seen great results in many patients.  The usual course of injections with the products I use in practice are one injection a week for four weeks, then one injection every three to six months, depending on the patient.

seven

Anti-Inflammatories and Pain Relief

Drugs are available that can reduce inflammation and suppress pain in dogs with more advanced disease.  The main category is a group called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).  They are very effective, but not without potential side effects.  If used improperly or in the wrong patient, they can cause stomach ulceration or damage the kidneys.  Side effects can be minimized by monitoring your dog’s blood work regularly. Other forms of pain relief that may be beneficial include Tramadol, Gabapentin and Amantadine.   It’s super important not to give human drugs to our pets, as they can cause illness or even death.  

So Here’s the recap

arthritis in dogs

For info on another very common disease in older dogs, check out my article on canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome.

Do you have any other tips or techniques for helping an arthritic dog?  I’d love to hear what has and has not worked for you!

Joanna Paul
Dr. Joanna Paul BVSc (hons) BSc Jo is a practicing small animal veterinarian based in Melbourne, Australia. Working in partnership with loving pet owners to ensure their fur-kids remain happy, healthy family members life-long is what brings her joy. Well, that and taking naps. Jo strongly believes that helping to maintain the wonderful bond between a pet and their human is reason enough for a happy dance.
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Showing 85 comments
  • Shirley
    Reply

    Hi, my beautiful dog muffy is 10/11 was just tested for cushings and is now on trilostane but has also got artritis has has been getting cartrophen injection once every 3 months but has only had 3 lots of that, lately have noticed he is very stiff in his back legs and sometimes limpy on his right front the vet said he is stiff in all legs, he still runs to his dinner and if someone comes to the door but once hes been lying for awhile takes longer to get up limps for awhile and looks score but then will come right he has just started bova tramadol hydrochloride suspension in liquid I also give him fish oil – joint guard and osteosupport, but not sure if the tramadol is helping mind you he has just started taking that and the cushing medicine for only 3 weeks and I was told that once you start treating cushing the artritis gets worse also tramadol is very expensive can you suggest anything else to help him but not hurt him I have just lost my other little dog a couple months ago and couldn’t bear to lose him but breaks my heart to see him in pain Thank you

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Shirley,
      You’re doing a great job with Muffy!
      Unfortunately they do sometimes get more sore when Cushing’s is treated because the high levels of steroids in the body that are part of the disease can have some anti-inflammatory effect.
      I find tramadol is helpful for some dogs and unhelpful for others. If you are not seeing a response it is definitely worth talking to your vet about other options. There are certainly other medications available that could help with the arthritis and which are considered safe to use at the same time as trilostane. Other than that, just keeping Muffy from getting cold, providing padded bedding, and regular moderate exercise can all help.

  • Malcolm
    Reply

    I have been giving my 13 yr 7 month old corgi meloxicon and also amantadine for almost two months as prescribed by the vet. My dog has had the first four cartrofen injections a week apart. None of this resulted in any change. Prior to I used to give him a 50 mg tramadol tablet every other day and .05 prednisolene in between he was much more active on this medication. I am wondering whether I should revert to this. The only concern is that prednisolone has greater side effects. My dog at present is active, can walk and run despite the arthritis in his rear left leg. Your advice please. He is a Welsh Pembroke Corgi.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Malcolm,
      Thanks for your message. I can understand your concern regarding long term use of prednisolone. Sometimes it is still a good option and is worth consideration if you had much better results than the current meds. Otherwise I’d discuss trying an NSAID other than meloxicam with your vet, because just like people, sometimes different dogs respond better or worse to different drugs of the same type. If there were no issues noted when using the tramadol it may also be possible to add this back in on top of what you are doing. There are certainly a lot of options regarding pain relief for arthritis in dogs and unfortunately it can sometimes be a case of trial and error working with your vet to find the right fit for your individual dog.

  • Sarah Lambert
    Reply

    I love your 7 tips, and would love to suggest an 8th: professional dog massage. It can’t stop the source of the problem of course, but it can give dogs quite a bit of relief. It can make them feel so much more comfortable, bringing extra blood to the muscles surrounding the joints. My partner is now practicing, having trained with http://www.nctm.com.au/ and every week we see the benefits. Some dogs literally have more spring in their step and others a sparkle in their eye – pain can make them a bit flat, and the massage really helps their mood too.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment! Yes I totally agree 🙂 We can all benefit from a good massage now and again!
      Jo

  • Lisa
    Reply

    Hi I have a 5 yr old chocolate lab. At 1yr he was diagnosed with double elbow dysplasia and unfortunately arthritis had already set into his joints, so operating wasn’t an option as the vet felt it would make no difference to him. He had an injection every week for 4 weeks and was started on yumove supplements.
    These last few weeks I’ve noticed a decline in him. He sometimes trips on his walks like his front legs are giving way on him. He also head bobs and has always done that. I don’t walk him too far as he overexerts himself and pays for it the next day. He usually gets 2x 20 min walks a day. Once a week I take him to the beach to swim.
    What can a do to help him? He is only 5 🙁 I’ve a feeling he isn’t going to have the long life we’d hoped for 🙁

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Lisa,
      I’m really sorry to hear about your boy and his sore elbows. It sounds like you are doing a terrific job. You could consider consulting a pet physio who may be able to advise specific exercises to help keep the supporting muscles in good shape. I would imagine there are surgical options also, depending where you are, even in the presence of arthritic changes. Total elbow replacements are offered by some specialist surgeons and are worth discussing with your vet. The other thing I can suggest if you are not doing it already is to use a really supportive orthopaedic bed for him.
      Best of luck!
      Jo

  • Bill
    Reply

    Good site here. I was looking for info on Emma the Border Collie who seems to be getting up slowly now at age 10. After reading most of the stuff on your pages I’ve come to the conclusion that, yes, she’s getting along. My human age is pretty close to her doggie age, and I don’t get up as easily as I used to. My self diagnoses for the 2 of us is pretty much the same. Some of this is normal, but it is exacerbated by our moderate cases of obesity and inactivity. So I’m putting us both back on strict diets and routine walks around the place which is kind of hilly and so it’s a bit of a workout.

    I am curious about her diet. I’d like to slowly add fresh food to her usual diet of decent quality dry dog food which is heavy in lamb. I’ve always allowed her to lick my breakfast plate that always has a fair amount of egg yolk left for her (I eat one egg over easy a day for the zeaxanthin and think it’s good for our four eyes’ maculas. I’d like to add some fresh meat for her and some fresh veggies. Should these be cooked or given raw? If cooked, how much cooking (rare, medium or well done?) I assume low heat is probably the best. She is fond of raw carrots, but doesn’t seem to digest them at all, if you know what I mean. Thanks

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Bill,
      Thanks for your kind words and input. Sounds like you and Emma have it all under control. Meat can be fed cooked or raw, although some dogs’ digestive tracts don’t cope well with raw meat, leading to diarrhoea and/or vomiting. Obviously it is also of paramount importance to practice very good food hygiene when handling raw meat. I would suggest cooking it the same way you cook your own, and remember to make any dietary changes gradually to reduce the chance of a tummy upset.
      Good luck!

  • Steph
    Reply

    Hi, my Timmy is only 1 year old and has just been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Is this common for that young? My vet is recommending surgery?

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Steph,
      I’m sorry to hear about Timmy. Hip dysplasia is something some dogs are born with, and the earlier it is diagnosed the better. At one year of age there may be very effective surgical options available that potentially wouldn’t be able to help an older dog. If Timmy has had hip dysplasia confirmed with xrays and is in pain, I would certainly be considering surgical options. Management with medications may be possible, but may also be difficult, with arthritic changes and discomfort increasing over time. If you are unsure your vet should be able to discuss Timmy’s individual situation with you in more detail, and there is always the option of seeking referral to specialist surgeon for more advice so you can make a fully informed choice. All the best to you and Timmy – I hope he feels better soon x

  • Gaynor Whyte
    Reply

    Hiya I have a 16 yr old springer spaniel with arthritis and we think he may have doggy dementia my vet put him on nitrates a long with canidryl but he same to sometime be reluctant to put his paws on the pavement but OK on grass is there anything else that you could recommend me for him a part from all that he is a happy dog

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Gaynor,
      I’m not sure what you mean by nitrates. The canidryl is a good anti-inflammatory so that should be helping with arthritic pain. I’m glad he’s generally happy. In terms of advice it’s hard because it’s not clear why he doesn’t want to walk on the hard surfaces. We need to know if it’s a pain problem or a fear/anxiety problem before we can look at ways to help. If he is avoiding paths because he’s sensitive you could try some boots on his feet. If he’s avoiding them because he’s become fearful of them for some reason (especially if you suspect he is becoming senile) I would just allow him to walk on grass if possible. I hope that helps a little bit!

  • Nina
    Reply

    Dear Joanna,

    My furry angel is soon 11y old, he is a big rough collie gentleman. He has arthritis in his carpal joints and lower thorax-lumbar facet joints. Nelson got SAE (liver toxicity) from carpofen and developed liver insufficiency, unfortunately. How would you treat his pain (comes and goes, every week is different), no NSAIDs can be used? Curcumin, gapapentin, other options? Back on track jacket helps the back and made him carpal joint supports from human versions. Greetings from Nordics, Nina and Nelson

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hello Nina and Nelson 🙂
      It’s not easy to manage osteoarthritis when you can’t use non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, but not impossible. In terms of medications, sometimes it is trial and error, to find out what works best for the individual. Some dogs respond really well to a course of pentosan injections. Many vets use a drug called tramadol for pain relief in dogs, but the scientific evidence isn’t there that it helps. I would usually choose gabapentin for chronic pain. Depending on side effects experienced, corticosteroids such as prednisolone can be a good anti-inflammatory also. It’s not a great choice for chronic ongoing use, but it’s a matter of weighing up the benefit vs the potential problems it can cause. Another medication sometimes used for pain is called amantadine. I hope you find a way to keep him comfortable, thanks for reading x

      • Nina
        Reply

        Thank you very much. No vet here has suggested pentosal injections, I found it very peculiar. I will investigate if this would be an option for him!

  • Linda Willett
    Reply

    I have a 51/2 year old very athletic English Springer Spaniel who has just been diagnosed with severe arthritis in her right elbow and moderate in the left. She is used to at least an hour and a half of exercise a day and still wants to run and go just slower. I have begun walking her on a leash instead of letting her run free and trying a lot less activity. She is still capable of running (more slowly), jumping into the car and now that her activity is limited she seems depressed and becomes destructive when we leave her alone. Should I let her run and play? I wish someone had told me exercising her so much could result in this. I am heartbroken.
    I have a great vet who has her on a Glucosumine supplement and we are avoiding a steady diet of NSAIDS so far since she doesn’t seem too uncomfortable. I think I will start a fish oil supplement too. What are your thoughts about letting her continue to hike 3 or 4 miles (she’s used to twice that much) once or twice a week. And she loves to run alongside me as I bicycle (I could slow that so she’s at a trot). She’s a ball dog and we usually play in a river or on a field and that seems to be the worst offender so no more. My poor girl – all that she loves – what do you think. Is it better to just let her do less of those activities than to stop?

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Linda,
      I don’t think you have done anything to cause her arthritis. It’s more likely that it was going to happen regardless. If she has loved every minute of the exercise and play you’ve had together I would not have any regrets. Steady exercise and lower impact exercises are likely to be of the most benefit. Anything with crazy fast starting and stopping or jumping may be too much for her. I don’t know about the distance of hiking for her – it’s really so individual and depends on what is going on in those joints and how far it’s progressed. I would suggest allowing her to guide you. If you do something and she seems uncomfortable afterwards or the following day, you’ve done too much. There are some good supplements out there for dogs to help reduce joint inflammation and keep cartilage healthy, but what is available depends on where you are. Perhaps it’s worth discussing any additional options available to you with your vet. I also find the injectable pentosan products to be really useful for some dogs too. Generally you would be looking at one injection a week for 4 weeks. I hope you find a management plan that works for both of you and that you have many more years of outdoor activities together.

  • Kelly
    Reply

    my english american bulldog is 94lbs and 3 yrs ago and has trouble getting up after laying, he can be a very actice dog, what does everyone recommend.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Kelly,
      At 3 yrs of age if he is having trouble getting up you should definitely get your vet to check him out. Unfortunately I don’t think anyone can advise you without a physical exam, because there are various possible causes.

      • Neil
        Reply

        Hi Kelly ,
        Also got American bulldog around same age and weight etc , which we’ve had best part of two years , recently been having trouble getting up, thought just over done it running around etc 2 days later symptoms got worse started to get up and walk on front legs only. Straight to vets just got xray results — not looking to good ,spine is showing signs of bridging together near the base , loose hip joint and discolated knee. Vet says probably been like that from birth or early in his life but got to the stage where it starting to affect him etc – absolutely gutted / heartbroken. Nèeds mra scan to get a better understanding of the spine damage before they operate. The vet seems to think this is the most pressing cause of trouble getting up etc, so hopeful he can sort that out before looking at the knee and hip which could be compensatory problem caused from the spine etc fingers cross insurance will cover the mra scan (£2000) plus whatever operation cost and hopefully enough cover to sort knee out. So Kelly I would get him to the vets in case it’s something similar, hopefully it’s not

    • Linda
      Reply

      Thank you so much for your kind response. I will ask my vet about the injections. She is great I hope she knows about them. I am also going to contact a holistic Veterinarian who does acupuncture. Thank you again for giving me maybe another way to keep my sweet girl happy. She has been seeming very bored and down and it’s hard to watch her.

  • Claudia Davis
    Reply

    Hi. My little boy, “Snoopy”, is 14 years old and just started showing signs of being wobbly and stiffness in his knees and back. I took him to the Vet this morning and the vet prescribed Robasin twice a day, and a follow up in one week. I’m not filmiliar with this medication and was wondering what you think about it. Do you think it will help my baby?

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Claudia,
      If the drug you mean is robaxin (methocarbamol), I believe it is quite helpful for relaxing muscle spasms, but unfortunately I don’t have experience with it myself. I really hope it helps Snoopy, and if you have any concerns about his ongoing level of discomfort be sure to mention them when you follow up with your vet. All the best.

  • Laura
    Reply

    Hi there,
    Thank you so much for the info! I too have a human-dog (border collie). He’s about to turn 5. I’ve noticed the last 5 days after our walk and ball play at the park his front legs get stiff/give way a little on the incline home from the park. Have you encountered this before? I’m wondering whether his joints are just a bit stiff from sitting at home all day while I’m at work (he has a huge yard, whether he uses it who knows!!). And the incline home might put pressure on his front joints.
    I’m wondering whether starting him on supplements might be worthwhile. Is this too young to be doing this or the earlier the better with a high energy BC?
    Many thanks!
    Laura

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Laura,
      Yay for Border Collies – they’re just the best!
      Hmmm, getting stiff and sore from exercise (assuming it’s not really extreme) at only 5 or so years of age is not what I would call “normal”. Especially for this breed, because they’re bred to work. While there is no harm in using appropriate supplements for joint health, I would definitely consider a check up with your vet.

  • Polly
    Reply

    It distresses us to see our dear ole gal, coming up eleven, limping and holding her paw off the ground; Xrays last week diagnosed arthritis but no treatment was thought necessary yet. Metacam tried earlier didn’t appear to make a difference and we’re addressing a slight overweight issue. As the x-rays just about cleaned us out I’m searching for affordable supplements but can’t be sure those online are genuine. Any thoughts appreciated.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Polly,
      I’m sorry to hear about your dog. I can empathize as my senior little lady is the same. Unfortunately it’s difficult to give specific advice without seeing your dog. If she is favouring one leg and appears uncomfortable, then she probably is uncomfortable. None of us want that for our pets and there are certainly things that can be done. If you have any doubt about the diagnosis or management offered, it’s worth going back and chatting to your vet again, or seeking a second opinion. I’m not sure about reputable online suppliers of supplements, but sometimes you can pick up appropriate products for sale in large pharmacies for a reasonable price. All the best to you and your dog.

      • Steve
        Reply

        My 13yo Airedale has the same problem, limping on her right paw. She doesn’t hold it up, but at times its very severe. I’ve tried every supplement out there including laser and acupuncture (those seemed like the biggest rip-off), nothing helps. Tired Adequan in her hind legs (before the front leg problem) but did not see any improvement.

        Right now the doc has her on Metacam, Gabapentin, Amantadine and Tramadol. It’s only been one week but not much improvement. Every once-in-awhile she walks normal on it.

        I don’t know what else to do. She’s still very alert, has all of her teeth and can hear. I can’t stand the thought of putting her down. Doctors can do a quadruple heart-bypass but can’t come up with a medication/treatment for a dog with arthritis? I’m tired of wasting money on every supplement that claims to be the best and does nothing, and doctors that can’t seem to look past their nose for an alternate treatment.

        • Joanna Paul
          Reply

          Hi Steve,
          I’m so sorry to hear that about your Airedale. The amount of effort you’ve put in trying to make her comfortable is fantastic, and it’s not fair that she’s still in pain. The medications your vet has chosen to put her on are the same ones I would likely choose in such a situation – they are really good drugs and it’s just so unfortunate she is still sore. Perhaps physiotherapy or some sort of supportive brace could help her, but you would need to discuss that in person with someone adequately qualified in physio/rehabilitation.
          I wish you all the best.

          • Barbara

            we are in the exact same position. Our 10 yr old coon hound mix has arthritis in his front wrist. I have also tried everything from acupuncture to adequan – curcimin and medicam – gabapentin – thermal wraps and just recently purchased a leg brace. He is in visible pain everyday and I too am tired of experimenting with various treatments while shelling out loads of cash to no avail. I just want him to be comfortable! And cannot for the life of me find a way to do that. I do plan on revisiting adequan as a last ditch effort. we are really at a loss!

          • Joanna Paul

            Hi Barbara,
            I’m really sorry to hear about your boy. All we want is their comfort, and it must be so frustrating and distressing to try so many things and not get a good outcome. I hope the adequan helps x

  • Lisa
    Reply

    I have 13 year old dog with arthritis issues. I started giving him Coconut oil on his food. Just heat it on stove and pour on his food. Saw big improvement in just matter of days. Wonder if the glucosamine would help too? If I cold give him both?

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Lisa,
      That’s great to hear! There is no medical reason not to use glucosamine at the same time as coconut oil. If your dog is quite stiff it’s worth a visit to the vet to see if there are additional, prescription-only options that may help.

  • Carla Murphy
    Reply

    Hi!
    Great article and your graphics (pictures) are an over the top bonus…LOL. We are experiencing the aged dog issues with four of our “babies”, so your article did make us feel better in knowing we are doing everything properly to assist them as they head into their twilight years.
    I have been attempting to download your free ebook, but I continue to receive the response, ” Uh oh, something went wrong, please try again later.” Is the free ebook no longer available?
    Thank you for loving the animals and sharing your knowledge.
    Regards,
    Carla Murphy

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Carla,
      I’m glad the article gave you the reassurance that you’re doing the right thing 🙂
      So sorry that the ebook isn’t working for you! I will find out what’s going wrong, but in the meantime I will email you a copy directly.

  • Maya
    Reply

    Thanks for the great, informative article! My dog suffers from arthritis which I think set in as a result of a torn ACL earlier on in her life. She’s 11 now so I’m concentrating on keeping her weight in check, keeping our walks and exercise moderate, and I also give her an all natural joint protector supplement. I always enjoy reading about other people’s experiences and different tips for dealing with this condition. After she tore her ACL years ago, I had gotten her an Ortocanis dog knee brace to help with the recovery. I just recently starting using it again for the arthritis and it’s making a noticeable difference, I can see how it relieves her pain just by the facial expression! This wasn’t included on your list but for us it’s made a world of difference.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Maya,
      thanks so much for your comment!
      It’s great to hear a brace has helped your dog. It’s actually not something I have tried for arthritis, but post-cruciate injury it certainly makes sense. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your experience, and will be looking into it 🙂

  • Faylinn
    Reply

    A few months ago, I took my dog Lacie to the animal hospital because she was really sensitive in her joint areas. It was discovered that she has arthritis and I have been doing everything that I can to help keep her comfortable. She even goes to a type of physical therapy. However, her arthritis seems to be worse now that it is winter and it is really cold. After reading this post, though, I definitely think that we will get her injectable glycosaminoglycans and nutritional supplements to help ease the pain.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Glad I could help, Faylinn. All the best to you and Lacie.

    • Emily
      Reply

      Hi my dog is about 15 now and I have realised he has some trouble with his back legs and I have the fish capsules could I give him one possibly in his food to help him with his joints or anything you can request thank you

      • Joanna Paul
        Reply

        Hi Emily,
        Fish oil capsules are usually fine for dogs. I recommend them with my own patients for joints, skin, coat, the list goes on. I think it’s worth checking with your own vet that the type/brand is okay though, just to be sure. They may also be able to recommend some anti-inflammatories or other medication to help keep him comfortable if appropriate.
        I hope that helps! Thanks for visiting.

        • Emily
          Reply

          Thank you and I’ve been walking my dog more to help with the stiffness and massaging his legs also he lives in the conservatory so it’s very cold I keep him with a lot of pillows and fluffy jackets etc just getting worried because of his age x

          • Emily

            I am also always turning the radiator in the conservatory on for him too

  • Mark cliffe
    Reply

    Hi I have a staff called zara who I love with all my heart she has joint issues and arthritis in her right leg it swells up.I have tried certain foods to help with her weight and we have been trying capsules in her food from online our vet pdsa sad they was okay to help.I want what’s best for my dog she still very active plays ball rolls over want to go walkies as many times as possible running on field with our younger staff ellie.I wish you all well with your dogs unless you have a dog and love them and see how much they love you back and appreciate your care and attention .

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hey Mark,
      I hope everything you are doing for your beautiful Zara is helping. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment, and all the best with your special girl.

  • Leigh
    Reply

    My boy is not even 3 and yesterday were told by our vet he has arthritis in both hips and ligament damage in his right knee. Most of what you mention is what our Vet has told us however they also recommended surgery, hopefully it doesn’t come to that. He has had a bad run with Cherry Eye, Skin Allergies, Food Allergies, Anemia from his food allergies before diagnosed, Herniated Bellybutton, Extra set of eye lashes were removed as aggravating his eyes, now for the poor thing to have arthritis on top of this my heart breaks for him. I will do anything for my baby boy but hate to see him in pain.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Leigh,
      your boy is so lucky to have you! I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through. I didn’t discuss surgery but it can certainly be an option for some dogs – particularly for stabilizing a knee with ligament damage. I hope it all works out well for you both x

  • Chris Greene
    Reply

    Arthritis is one of the most common ailments seen in middle-aged to older pets. Even younger dogs and cats, under the right circumstances, can suffer from arthritic changes.

  • Madie4
    Reply

    Thanks for the information!! I have a school project for arthritis and this will help a lot!!
    🙂

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      That’s great, I hope the project goes well 🙂
      Let me know if I can help any further!

  • Beth Roberts
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing these tips to help the dogs get over the pain and be happy. The arthritis supplements for dogs are available for online purchase to help your pet rid their pain.

  • M. K. Clinton
    Reply

    This is a great post on arthritis. I suffer from it and wouldn’t wish that pain on my Basset Hound for anything! Thanks for the preventative tips.

  • Traveling Cats
    Reply

    Interesting article. Didn’t know about the hydrotherapy.

  • Nikki
    Reply

    Really informative article. I interviewed a phsyical rehab specialist a while back and she said the number 1 thing you can do for your dog’s health is keep it lean! And it’s sad that so many dog owners, especially here in the US, think that being a great dog parent is giving the dog treats whenever it wants them! Also a friend here put her 12 year-old lab on Pentosan and had great results. She said it was like a different dog. How do you decide when to try something like that as opposed to just supplements and anti-inflammatories? Many vets haven’t heard of it.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Nikki, thanks for the great comment!
      I reeeeeally like pentosan.
      It’s important to be aware that it doesn’t work for every dog, but for some it is brilliant. It’s usually my mid-range option. Great for the dogs who aren’t affected by their arthritis to the point that I can justify long-term anti-inflammatories yet.
      Of course the earlier you intervene with supplements and pentosan-type options, the more likely you are to slow down the progression of the disease and keep the dog comfortable for longer.

  • Kathryn Dilligard
    Reply

    Can younger dogs suffer from arthritis? Or just the old ones?

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Great question. It is much more common in older dogs, but young dogs can certainly be affected, particularly if they have had an injury or are predisposed due to something like dysplasia or OCD.

  • Joseph Watson
    Reply

    Exercising is a good method for keeping our pets healthy but not always. Over exercising can cause damage to their joints that can lead to arthritis. So avoid those activities that puts a tremendous stress on your pets joint.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Agreed. Just like with humans, we don’t want our canine friends to overdo it.

  • Alexander
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing this informative post. This is a serious problem and one must follow the tips to make their dogs comfortable.

    • Joanna
      Reply

      Thanks Alexander, I’m glad you liked it 🙂

  • jansfunnyfarm
    Reply

    We dogs walk regularly with Jan to keep her limber, although she’d fib and tell you the opposite. 🙂 Good post.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Haha, thanks for coming by! walking is good for all of us, isn’t it 🙂

  • Jan K
    Reply

    Great information! Since our 9 year old golden retriever was diagnosed I try to read everything I can on the subject. We follow your 7 ways to help pretty well. Sheba is doing very well, we give her the supplement Natural Stride and she still stays active with only an occasional bout of limping. One Rimadyl takes care of that when it happens.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Thanks Jan, I love hearing success stories! Drugs like Rimadyl can be fantastic for an ‘as needed’ basis. Hugs to Sheba – I have a soft spot for goldens, but then again, who doesn’t!

  • M. K. Clinton
    Reply

    Great tips for helping relieve the pain of arthritis. It can be such a crippling disease.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      You’re so right, it can really affect quality of life – but there’s a lot we can do to help.

  • Rascal and Rocco
    Reply

    Good info to know. Thanks for sharing on the Pet Parade! ~Rascal and Rocco

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Thanks Rascal and Rocco,
      You know, arthritis is important for fantastic felines like yourselves too, I’ll make sure I don’t neglect the kitties in my next post!

  • Reply

    That was a fabulous post! Great info! Thanks so much for sharing and linking up to the pet parade!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Thank you! I love the pet parade always great posts to read 🙂

  • Reply

    Thank you for the information.

  • SlimDoggy Steve
    Reply

    Thanks for mentioning SlimDoggy.

    Research indicates that eating a quality diet combined with regular exercise can actually forestall or reduce symptoms of arthritis. We wrote about this recently here:
    http://slimdoggy.com/is-running-bad-for-knees-and-joints/

    We are also proponents of a rotational feeding strategy to make sure that your dog is receiving well rounded nutrition and to mitigate the potential of developing allergic reactions to commonly used proteins.

    Great article- thanks for posting!

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Thank you! SlimDoggy is a fantastic resource and I am really grateful for the message you are promoting. I wish all doggies were slim doggies 😉

  • Kimberly Gauthier
    Reply

    We have 2 dogs with arthritis and we treat them both naturally and through nutrition. Switching to raw helped, but it’s not enough for us. We also give them green lipped mussels due to it’s anti-inflammatory benefits. Omega 3s – we prefer freeze dried smelt (so do the dogs). Coconut oil helps. Calcium supplements. And they are on a joint supplement.

    It’s a regimen that really works for our dogs.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Thanks for coming by Kimberley, I love what you do! Anyone interested in the ins and outs of raw feeding should definitely head over to your wonderful site. What is the joint supplement you use?
      I’m so glad what you’re doing works great for your dogs.
      I do find a lot of dogs respond terrifically to the glycosaminoglycan injections too if you find they need a bit of a boost down the track.

  • Jennifer
    Reply

    Great article with tips on easing arthritis pain in dogs. My last dog, Howie, suffered from arthritis in his older age. Would you suggest any preventative care in younger dogs? I worry my Beatrice, an English Bulldog, will suffer from arthritis as she gets older.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Jennifer
      I think I answered your query over on triberr, but it’s a fantastic question! I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to keep pets at an appropriate body weight. If you can keep Beatrice lean and active (on an English Bulldog scale) that will give her the best chance of healthy joints long term, as well as reduce the likelihood of loads of other problems too. Pretty much any of the advice in the article other than the last two options (the medications) can be used as prevention as well as treatment. I hope that helps!

  • Amy @ My Pet Warehouse
    Reply

    This article is incredibly informative and well laid out so it’s easy to take in the information. I will definitely be sharing it around for our social media followers to read.

    Also, I couldn’t help but notice that you mentioned dietary assistance for mobility issues. My Pet Warehouse now have vet diets in stock online (only) and as you have mentioned we also always suggest that customers consult their vet first before purchasing a veterinary diet food.

    Do you agree that consulting your vet is the first step when considering a vet diet pet food?

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Thank you Amy!
      How interesting, I had no idea prescription diets were available outside of veterinary clinics (and so assumed everyone consulted with a vet before starting their pet on them).
      I 100% agree that talking to your vet first is crucial. Prescription diets are very beneficial (and sometimes life saving) when used appropriately, but are potentially a waste of money if given to animals who don’t need them.
      Senior pets should be examined by a vet at least once a year anyway, as we all know prevention is better than a cure, and catching problems early can make a huge difference to the outcome.

  • Joyce Blain
    Reply

    Thanks for the 7 tips My Nikki is failing.She has turned 15.Having a few wetting incidents and I think confussion as she looks lost at timed.Love seeing your beautiful family. Stay happy.Love Joyce.

    • Joanna Paul
      Reply

      Hi Joyce,
      Nikki is really 15 already!? She’s a beautiful girl and I know she is cared for very well. They just get old far too quickly don’t they, my darling Anika is 12 today.
      Hope to see you again soon, take care xxx

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