Arthritis In Dogs

Arthritis in dogs and other pets; Arthritis is common in our pets and particularly in our older, overweight pets. And it’s largely overlooked. It can impact their quality of life, and I find that a lot of dog owners don’t notice that arthritis is happening. They think my dog is getting older, and it’s not moving around as well, and it’s very common in cats. And it’s rare for clients to notice that arthritis is a problem.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease in dogs. It is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage in one or more joints accompanied by inflammation and pain. That progresses to a debilitating condition that can severely affect joint mobility and health.

Causes of Arthritis in Dogs

  • Ligaments Injury
  • Instability in joints (hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation)
  • Cartilage problems
  • Infection in joints
  • Autoimmune disorders

Symptoms of osteoarthritis

  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Erosion of Cartilage
  • Loss of Joint Lubrication
  • Atrophy of Surrounding Muscles
  • Loss of Mobility & Flexibility

Signs of Arthritis in Dogs

  • Reduction In Activity And Exercise Levels
  • Hesitancy To Jump and Climb
  • Difficulty Getting Up
  • Spend More Time Sleeping
  • Weight Gain
  • Behavior Changes:

Treatment For Arthritis In Dogs

The first important thing I want you to think about is that any lameness whatsoever in your cat or dog means that they’re uncomfortable. It means that there’s inflammation in a joint, and if there’s inflammation in a joint, that joint is going to further breakdown. If those waves of inflammation are coming, you’re going to have degenerative joint disease. And it’s going to get worse over time. So what’s important is, you manage these four key factors to prevent any sort of lameness or stiffness. That your dog or cat is showing So that you don’t progress degenerative joint disease.

  • Exercise:

The first one is exercise, and this is mostly related to our dogs. Dogs when we own them, we want them to run around. We think they should run around everywhere, and as they get older, you’ll still throw that ball so many times. I want you to consider controlling their exercise by doing the level of exercise that’s appropriate so that they don’t come up lame or stiff the next day.

For instance, my dad had a Border collie, he lived down on the beaches, and one day the dog just wouldn’t go up the steps anymore. So I asked him what he was doing, and he would walk along the boardwalk, but he would kick a ball probably 50 or 60 times. And the dog would cover about ten times the distance he would. So I told them to kick it once or twice and then put the dog on a leash and walk the rest of the day. A day or two later, the dog was bounding up the steps again. So being aware that your dog is getting older and controlling its exercise is very important to prevent that flare-up, that inflammation of arthritis.

  • Weight Management:

The second thing to make sure of is that your dog or cat is an ideal weight. I can’t stress enough that if they’re overweight, it’s going to make them prone to arthritis. I encourage you to take a look at our weight management tool and use it so that you get your pet to an ideal weight. By managing this, you’ll prevent arthritis. I’ve also seen some animals that have lameness, and once their weight comes down, it disappears, that they can manage it on that level of weight. Keep in mind as well, the heavier your cat or dog is, the higher the dose of medication they’re going to need to control that arthritis. It’s going to start to get very expensive, so make sure they’re a healthy weight, and that will help prevent these problems as well.

  • Prescription Medication:

The third thing to consider to prevent lameness, inflammation related to arthritis is a prescription medication. Now, what a lot of vets will prescribe, and I’ve done it many times is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory what we call Endocet. This will have an immediate impact on inflammation in your dog. And sometimes when a dog’s a little older and we just want to do a trial on it to see if it gives them a lot more comfort and mobility. I’ll sometimes do that over the short term just to see if it helps them. This will help manage arthritis.

What’s important is that these drugs, they’re also a little bit costly but they're a little hard on the body as well. They’ll have some side effects that you can ask your veterinarian about. So it’s really good to do some blood work before you start using medication like that. The other thing is, and this is less well used. But I think it is effective. there are some other drugs you can use other than non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. They are cheaper, and they’re healthier for your pet.

That drug is polysulfated glycosaminoglycans. And what this does is it gets into the joint, and it can decrease inflammation. And they can have a series of injections, and they can respond to those injections and not need any medication for months. These medications don’t work as immediately as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. But they can be effective at decreasing arthritis pain and inflammation over time in your pet. And they could be a lot more cost-effective and healthier.

  • Use Of Glucosamine:

The last thing to mention is the use of glucosamine. Glucosamines have been used for a long time in people and animals for decreasing arthritis pain and inflammation. Some dogs and cats will respond to them well, just like people and others won’t. We know that they can help and some people have found them to be helpful.

A lot of our clients have gone into health food stores and gotten a human glucosamine product and given that to their dogs. That sometimes works, and, I used to tell people to do that. Then I once read a study that said the human products tend to have a lot more variability in each unit of glucosamine. That doesn’t work very well for animals. This frustrated me because I used to tell people to do that, so I decided to start recommending veterinary products. And it was difficult for me because veterinary products are much more expensive, but I committed to doing that.

Once I did that, people were coming back to me saying they see a difference. And I wasn’t seeing that it is routine with the human products, so it turns out that the study was pretty accurate. I think you can still do that if you’re looking at a cost-effective way of giving them glucosamines. But getting a veterinary product is something I recommend.


The other thing is, glucosamines come in a couple of different categories to consider. There are all-natural products that have sources of glucosamine that naturally occur in nature. And then there are chemical products where it’s going to say the number of milligrams of glucosamine. And then there’s a third product that has both of those. You want to look at these, I like to lean towards the natural products, but every dog and cat is going to be different, and they’ll respond to things differently. So you can try these different products and see what works best in your pet.

So by managing these four things. Again you must use these four things in combination to make sure that your pet does not have any inflammation in their joints. That they have no lameness and no recurrences of lameness because every time that happens, there’s inflammation of the joint and further breaks it down. So what I want you to do is watch your pet carefully and make sure they’re not exhibiting some of these signs, be aware if they do.

Don’t pass it off as your pet just getting older because they could be uncomfortable, and some of these things I discuss can alleviate that. Some clients have come to our hospital. Our vets identified that their dogs have arthritis, and they didn’t think so. Then when we started to medicate them, they noticed a huge difference in their pets. They’d say things like “they a new lease on life.” That makes us feel great when our staff able to do that. But what it takes first is you identifying it, considering it, and going to your veterinarian.


Alternative Therapy for Pain and Arthritis in Dogs

  • Acupuncture, it’s been used for hundreds of thousands of years in China and ancient medicine, and it works great for pain control.
  • Laser therapy is another good option, as well.
  • Herbal therapies, there are tons of herbals out there. Either from Chinese medicine, traditional medicine, or western herbals, things like turmeric, green tea a lot of things that you may even have at home.

However, before searching for these alternatives online, you have to talk to your regular veterinarian. Some of these natural herbals can interfere or interact with medications that your pet might be on, and cause them that combination to be unsafe.

If you have any questions about arthritis in dogs, or if you notice any other changes in your dog that you’d like to let other people know about. Then please leave a comment down below.

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