Updated: 2022, Mar 21

Dog Joint and Muscle Pain – 5 Tips You Must Know

Dogs are prone to joint and muscle pain, particularly when they age. That’s not surprising if we take into account they’re active animals that like to run around and play. Unfortunately, the pain of joints and muscles can have a major impact on dog’s life.

Dog Joint and Muscle Pain – 5 Tips You Must Know

The intensity of pain varies; while some dogs don’t experience too much pain, others suffer from severe discomfort that prevents them from making any type of movement.

Although dogs can’t talk, you’ll immediately understand something’s up when your beloved buddy stops being active, refuses to run and finds it difficult to do certain actions, even walk. Besides taking your dog to the vet’s office, there are other useful things you can do to relieve the pain your pet experiences.

Causes of Joint Pain in Dogs

Causes of joint pain in dogs are numerous, but we can categorize them into two major categories: degenerative and developmental. The latter include elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, and other problems, while degenerative usually refer to ligament problems that occur due to age-related wear and tear.

Other potential causes of joint pain in dogs include past fractures involving the affected joint, dietary and hormonal diseases, and so on.

Although all dogs can develop joint problems like dog arthritis joint pain, breeds with bigger size and weight are more prone to them. It’s also important to mention there are also some breed-specific problems such as:

  • Rottweilers – Knee and ankle problems
  • Newfoundlands – Cruciate ligament disease
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs – Elbow dysplasia.

Luckily, there are many things you can do to help your dog, relieve the pain, and improve its mobility.

Help Your Dog Relieve the pain

1. Manage Weight

Dog obesity is quite common in the United States. According to the Pet Obesity Prevention, about 52.7% dogs are overweight or obese, which accounts for 43.8 million dogs. The excessive weight puts a bigger pressure on the joints, thus making it more difficult for the dog to move and the intensity of pain increases as well.

Therefore, weight management poses as the most important step in managing and relieving joint pain. The journal Veterinary Research Communications published results of the study which discovered that weight reduction decreases lameness and should be recommended as an important strategy and dog joint supplements for all dog owners to relieve the pet’s joint pain and prevent future damage.

2. Physical Activity

Besides weight management, exercise is another important step. Although it seems quite logical to ensure the dog rests at all times, that’s a wrong tactic. Just like humans, dogs also have to do certain exercises to relieve stiffness and pain in their joints. Prolonged inactivity can only increase the intensity of the pain once the dog starts moving.

Ideally, you should consult a vet to will recommend therapists who work with dogs, and you can also find certain exercises online. The primary purpose of these exercises is to improve the dog’s range of motion and strengthen its muscles. Your dog can also:

  • Swim
  • Walk (with a leash, you dictate the calm and easygoing tempo)
  • Walk on treadmill
  • Slow jogging
  • Going up and down the stairs

Bear in mind that high-impact exercises that require your dog to use its full speed, aren’t the right idea for its painful joints.

Physical Activity with Dog

3. Keeping the Dog Warm

Most dog owners find that warmth helps their pet while the cold aggravates the pain. That’s why you should strive to keep your dog warm and dry as much as possible. For example, you can cover the dog with a blanket when home, purchase a nice sweater that will keep the dog warm when you’re out, and you can also consider keeping the temperature in your home warmer, as well.

If the dog’s bed is on the floor, try elevating it onto a sofa, especially if there’s no carpet that would keep the floor slightly warmer.

4. Massage and Physical Therapy

Massage and physical therapies aren’t just for humans; they’re ideal for dogs as well. The veterinarian can perform massage and physical therapy, recommend someone, or show you how to do it yourself. The message will make your dog relax, but it will also improve blood flow, and relieve stiffness.

5. Adjust dog’s diet

Your dog’s diet is equally important as physical activity. Ideally, the dog shouldn’t eat pizza and other leftovers that cause weight gain. Here’s how to tweak the dog’s joint diet to fight joint pain:

  • Avoid feeding your dog with fatty meats which aggravate inflammation
  • Add more Omega 3’s to dog’s diet
  • Introduce new, healthy foods gradually one by one
  • Make soup and easy-to-chew foods
  • Minimize grain in dog’s diet
  • Avoid preparing food for your dog using plant-based oils such as safflower, sunflower, and vegetable oils
  • Purchase dog food that is specially made for joints
  • Elevate dog’s bowl to the height it can reach without experiencing pain
Dog Joint Food


Joint and muscle pain can have a tremendous impact on every dog, affect mobility, and cause pain. If you notice any change in dog’s behavior, you should take it to the vet immediately. Also, certain lifestyle tweaks to manage dog’s weight and diet are always helpful.



Sam Kramer is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, Six Sigma Green Belt Certified, and Certified Sports Nutritionis

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