Updated: 2021, Jun 14

Dog Arthritis: Top 5 Ways To Treat The Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis is a progressive, painful, and in most cases permanent disease that affects both humans and our four-legged friends. Unfortunately, this disease is quite common in dogs, and as they age, the risk of arthritis increases.

Dog Arthritis: Top 5 Ways To Treat The Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritic dogs experience various difficulties in performing activities they used to do with ease.

Even getting up becomes tricky and the poor fellow feels pain. These situations affect owners as well, they are sad to see their best friends suffer and want to help them but don’t know how.

If you have an arthritic dog (or suspect he or she could be), this is the perfect article for you. Here, you’ll find out to treat your dog’s arthritis and improve the furry buddy’s quality of life.

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

Signs of arthritis in canines usually show up gradually; they don’t develop the disease overnight. Being able to spot those signs and notice changes is a major step towards managing their condition. When you take your pet to the vet’s, and he/she diagnoses arthritis, it will be easier for you to control it and prevent excruciating pain in your dog if it’s in early stages of development. Here are signs that indicate your dog could have arthritis:

  • Limping – If you notice the pet is limping or favoring one or more of his legs while avoiding as much as he/she can to form pressure on a specific leg, it could indicate the joints are arthritic
  • Difficulty Moving – The dog is reluctant to do things that were previously easy for him to accomplish
  • Spinal issues – sore neck, abnormal posture with a hunch in the back, the lameness of one or both hind legs
  • Tiredness – Regular works become shorter and more painful
  • Irritability – Snapping and/or biting when approached or handled, particularly if you do something that increases the pain
  • Muscle atrophy – Dying of the muscle tissue e.g. one or more legs look way thinner than others
  • Licking, chewing, biting the areas that are painful

Other symptoms include stiffness, prolonged periods of rest, disinterest in physical activity, weight gain or weight loss, and so on.

It is very painful to see your dog suffer being unable to move properly, but luckily there are many things you can do to help your canine.

1. Weight Loss

Just like in humans, excessive weight adds pressure to aching joints and increases the intensity of pain. Managing the dog’s weight is the first and most important step to treat arthritis.

The Veterinary Research Communications published results of the study which analyzed the impact of weight loss on obese dogs who suffered from osteoarthritis.

Results of this research confirm that weight loss should be recommended as an important treatment measure to owners of overweight dogs with osteoarthritis, as well as other types of the disease.

You can help your dog slim down through physical activity that doesn’t aggravate joint pain and a healthy diet. Dog food with extra vitamins and nutrients that act as appetite suppressants is a great way of preventing the canine from overeating or asking for more food later.

Related: How to Keep Your Dog Strong and Healthy with Hydrotherapy?

2. Gentle, Low-Impact Exercise

Low-Impact Exercise

Dogs are active animals that are the happiest when they run around completely carefree. Arthritis doesn’t have to represent the end of their physical activity.

With painful joints, mobility suffers, but you can still help your dog be active and relieve pain with special exercises. For example, you can try a dog treadmill, walking, swimming, and don’t forget to consult a veterinarian who will recommend other types of low-impact exercises you can help your dog perform for healthier joints.

3. Massage

Massage relieves sore muscles, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress. Plus, all dogs love a nice massage.

It’s needless to mention that massage improves blood flow and makes your dog feel relaxed, all these factors are necessary for canine’s mobility. You can take your dog to a professional or learn how to give a nice, relaxing, and blood flow-boosting massage that goes beyond belly rubs.

4. Modify the Environment

Arthritic dogs find it difficult to walk around the house because of many obstacles that increase the pain. For example, you probably noticed it takes ages for your dog to get up or down the stairs or to get in and out of the car.

An important part of treating dog’s arthritis is to help the pet by modifying the environment. Pet stairs, ramps, softer bed, are quite helpful. If you don’t have runner carpets on the floor, consider getting them to prevent your dog from slipping and falling.
See also: Best Dog Joint Supplements of 2016 Reviewed

5. Fish Oil Supplementation

Fish Oil Supplementation

Fish oil supplementation poses as a cost-effective tool that improves the joint function of arthritic dog. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association showed that in dogs that receive Carprofen for arthritis, with a dog joint diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil, there’s an excellent basis for a reduction in dosage of the drug.

In fact, findings showed that Carprofen dosage reduced significantly in dogs fed the supplemented diet. This is perfect for dog owners who want to find a natural way of treating arthritis, particularly if their pet experiences adverse effects.


Arthritis is quite common in old dogs, but in some cases, younger dogs develop this disease as well. Different lifestyle changes can help improve the dog’s mobility and decrease the sensation of pain. It’s recommended to take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice symptoms mentioned above.



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

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