Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis is one of the most common afflictions for dogs; it affects one in five dogs in the United States. Arthritis is a debilitating condition which causes inflammation and pain in a dog’s joints, and usually affects elbows, hips, shoulders, back and neck. It can affect one or more joints and is often present in both young and old dogs alike. Because of their great size and weight large/giant breeds are the most prone to developing arthritis.

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

The most common symptoms for arthritis in dogs are:

  1. Favoring a limb/limping

  2. Difficulty sitting or standing

  3. Sleeping more or restless sleep

  4. Stiff or sore joints

  5. Unwilling to get up, run, jump, or climb stairs

  6. Weight gain

  7. Less interest in play/not alert

  8. Irritable, crying or whimpering

  9. Lack of appetite

If one or more of these symptoms are present, you should go see your dog’s veterinarian. Your dog’s veterinarian can do an arthritis evaluation consisting of a physical exam and x-rays. Additionally, if your vet doesn’t suggest it, ask for a blood panel. The blood panel might detect a disease such as Lymes’ disease, which has some arthritis-like symptoms.

Natural Therapies

If your dog is suffering from arthritis, first check his weight and diet. Fido’s extra pounds are adding to the stress on his joints and many dog foods contain ingredients, which will make the arthritis worse. Start, by cutting back on those table scraps and unnecessary treats and taking a short daily walk. Even just ten minutes a day will shed pounds and improve circulation.

Now let’s take a closer look at what you’re feeding your dog. Are you feeding a high quality chemical-free food? I recommend Honest Kitchen’s Verve dog food. No matter what you feed your dog make certain it doesn’t contain preservatives, chemicals, food colorings, wheat, corn, or soy products. These ingredients are not good for dogs. Furthermore, avoid feeding your dog grains; grains tend to increase joint inflammation.

While we’re on the subject of food, celery is a vegetable that can help with your dog’s joints. If you give this a try, you’ll probably have to trick your dog into eating it. Try using a food processor and chopping it into very small pieces before mixing it with your dog’s food.

Over the counter supplements can also help with a dog’s arthritis. Studies have shown that glucosamine, chondrotin sulfate and omega three fatty acids are all helpful in treating the symptoms of arthritis. Glucosamin and chondrotin sulfate are usually purchased in powdered form and fish oil capsules are a good source of omega three fatty acids.

Non-traditional Therapies

Exercise and Physical therapy have also been shown to ease many arthritic symptoms. Swimming is a great exercise for your dog, and it doesn’t put strain on their joints. If you have a small dog you can use a bath tub as a therapy pool, but you need to stay vigilant and for safety don’t leave your small dog unattended. If your dog isn’t fond of water don’t force them to swim, regular walks are still a good source of exercise.

Another effective means to combat canine arthritis is acupuncture. Utilized for centuries in Eastern Medicine, acupuncture is starting to become a widely accepted practice in Western Society. Studies on Acupuncture have shown that it has a tendency to dramatically improve a variety of health concerns in dogs. Talk to your veterinarian to learn if acupuncture is right for your pet.

To help support joints and connective tissues add a powdered Vitamin C supplement to your dog’s food. Not only does Vitamin C help support joints it will also combat further degradation of joints already plagued by arthritis. Avoid plain ascorbic acid, because it can cause your dog to have an upset stomach, instead use sodium ascorbate. If you notice loose stool after starting a regimen of Vitamin C cut back the dosage.

Dosage recommendations based on breed size.

Small= 500-1000mg

Med-Large= 1000-2000mg

Giant = 2000-4000mg

What to avoid?

Never try to home medicate your dog with medications meant for humans. Certain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are toxic to a dog. If your veterinarian prescribes a medication for your dog strictly follow their dosage suggestion. Remember, regardless of the treatment option(s) you choose, it could take weeks for any remedy to show signs of improvement. Keep it up and make caring for your dog’s arthritis a habit.

How to make your arthritic dog’s life better?

There are also several environmental changes you can make to your dog’s lifestyle. Here are some things you can do now to help ease arthritis pain. Avoid activities that strain your pet’s joints. Purchase or build a dog ramp to help your pet in getting access to those difficult to reach places like cars/trucks, beds, and stairs.

Help to cut back the strain on your dog’s neck and back when they eat and drink by raising or purchasing a stand to elevate your dog’s food and water dishes.

Keep your dog warm. Cold and damp air aggravates arthritic joints. Purchase a high quality pet bed that will help to keep your dog sleeping warm and comfortable while reducing stiffness, aches, and pains after sleeping. If you usually keep your dog outdoors consider purchasing an insulated dog house or better yet welcome them inside. Even just petting your dog can help your dog to feel better. Be a friend to your best friend.


  1. Arthritis in dogs truly is almost like an epidemic! Sadly the most common suggested treatment are NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) These often work to alleviate the inflammation and pain, but can come with very serious side effects.

    Your article has great non-drug treatment suggestions. Agree with weight management, quality food, supplements, acupuncture and exercise. Cold laser therapy can also be very helpful.

    The best treatment available at this time, though relatively expensive is stem cell regenerative therapy. (stem cells extracted from the patient’s own fat tissue). Stem cell therapy might well be where the future of veterinary medicine lies.

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