Arthritis in Dogs


Dog Arthritis Community Pet Clinic


  • What is Arthritis in Dogs?
  • Signs of Arthritis in Dogs
  • How Are Dogs Diagnosed with Arthritis
  • The Treatment for Arthritis in Dogs
  • Injections for Arthritis in Dogs
  • Is Arthritis in Dogs Curable?
Arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, is an extremely painful and debilitating condition in dogs. It can seriously impact their comfort levels and day-to-day life. Often thought to be a disease of older dogs, it can also occur in young dogs. In fact, 20% of dogs over 1 year old have arthritis,  while 80% of dogs over 8 years old may be affected.
Arthritis in dogs can often do undetected by owners due to the signs and symptoms in dogs not being commonly known. To help your pup live a happy life, prevention and treatment is key to managing this painful condition and we have everything you need to know.

What is Arthritis in Dogs?

Arthritis can affect one or multiple joints and is a painful, degenerative condition. The pain is caused by an inflammation in their joint, formation of a new bone, and/or degeneration/wearing of cartilage. As a dog’s joint loses its absorptive ‘spongy’ capacity and their more likely to suffer from ligament or further joint damage.
image of dog being stroked
Whilst there’s not one common cause of arthritis in dogs, it can be caused by many different factors including:
  1. Breed and body conformation

  2. Extra body weight

  3. Abnormal joints (e.g., luxating patella, hip dysplasia)

  4. Injury

  5. Previous surgery

  6. Activity (e.g., working dogs)

Signs of Arthritis in Dogs

Not all pooches act the same and this also applies to when they’re in pain. Dogs with arthritis may have different symptoms but in general, they will all have similar signs.
Their signs may relate directly to arthritis and joint pain and may include;
  1. Limping/lameness

  2. Painful legs

  3. Walking stiffly

  4. Difficulty getting up and sitting down

  5. Difficulty using stairs

  6. Walking less

Symptoms of arthritis may also include generalised signs of pain;
  1. Sleeping more

  2. Less interaction with the owner

  3. Aggression towards people or other animals

  4. Irritability

  5. Change in appetite or drinking behaviour

If you notice any change in your dog’s mobility, avoid putting it down to them ‘becoming old’. Visit your vet and have your pup examined, as their change in behaviour could be down to a painful underlying condition such as arthritis.

How Are Dogs Diagnosed with Arthritis

If you clear your dog is having difficulty getting around and are seeing visible signs of distress when moving around, it’s best to book a check-up with your veterinarian who will be able to check for arthritis. In the appointment, your vet will take a thorough history of their health and conduct an examination – which will also include a palpation of their joints which may help to detect arthritis.
image of dog lying on ground
They may also recommend X-rays to check for further joint abnormalities such as hip dysplasia. If they plan on putting your dog on medication, they may run routine blood work and urinalysis and a referral for orthopaedic surgery may be done if they have a condition such as luxating patella.

The Treatment for Arthritis in Dogs

Treatment for arthritis in dogs is usually multi-modal. This means that we often use a combination of drugs, along with appropriate nutrition and nutraceuticals to treat their condition. There is no singular treatment for arthritis or one size that fits all. Each dog’s response to treatment is different and some drugs work better on some dogs than others. The aim of treatment is to reduce pain and discomfort, for your pooch to have a better quality of life.


The first drugs that are commonly used to treat canine arthritis, are called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Common examples of these drugs are meloxicam (Metacam) and robenacoxib (Onsior).
These are potent anti-inflammatories that work well on joints, but your vet may decide to run bloodwork and a urinalysis if your dog is staying on these drugs long-term.

Pain killers for Arthritis in Dogs

Other pain killers apart from non-steroidal anti-inflammatories include gabapentin, amantadine, tramadol, and paracetamol. These drugs are usually used in combination with an anti-inflammatory.
image of dog in field


These are supplements that can be used in the treatment of arthritis. They often include omega acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin. There are many of these products on the market, however it’s always advisory to purchase from a reputable, trusted source – your vet can also help.

Diet for Dogs with Arthritis

It’s important that dogs suffering from arthritis are on a high-quality complete diet. If they’re overweight, it’s vital to learn how to keep them in shape and be placed on a low calorie diet. You can also seek help from a nutritionist/vet if you’re struggling to manage your canines weight.

Home Modifications

Dogs with arthritis may struggle to use the stairs or get into the car. Modify your home where possible to include dog friendly ramps, anti-slip mats, raised food and water bowls, and plenty of comfortable bedding.


Avoid long, strenuous bouts of exercise as dogs with arthritis are prone to injuring their joints. Instead, opt for shorter more frequent exercise sessions. The pace should be consistent, but not too fast and it’s best to avoid running (e.g., ball throwing).

Injections for Arthritis in Dogs

If your dog is in extreme pain, your vet may administer a painkiller injection at the practice. This will be short-acting injection for arthritis, anywhere between 6-24 hours in duration.
image of older dog on leather chair
There are other longer-acting injections available to help arthritis. One of these injections is called pentosan polysulfate (Cartrophen). This injection may have anti-inflammatory and disease-modifying effects and is given weekly for a 4-week duration, which can be repeated up to three times a year.
Another newer injection available is bedinvetmab (Librela). This is a monthly, anti-nerve growth factor monoclonal antibody injection to treat arthritic pain in dogs. It’s newer on the market compared to other drugs but has quickly become a common arthritic treatment option. Seek the advice from your vet to discuss your pup’s injection options.

Can Acupuncture Help Arthritis in Dogs?

Yes, absolutely! Acupuncture can provide relief for many dogs with arthritis and joint inflammation. Other therapies that may help include hydrotherapy (discover the best places to take your dog swimming near you) and laser, but your vet can recommend reputable practitioners.
image of happy older dog

Is Arthritis in Dogs Curable?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis. It’s a progressive condition that requires long-term management. However, it can be managed with various treatments to ensure they live a happy life with their lifelong condition.
Canine arthritis is a painful condition, but it has come a long way in recent years. There are many pain relief options available now along with additional therapies, diets, and supplements. Have a chat with your vet and come up with a plan for your dog. Dogs with arthritis can live happy and comfortable lives.
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