Dog Arthritis: What it is, Symptoms and Treatments

Does your dog have arthritis, or do you think it’s possible that they might? Canine arthritis is surprisingly common, and many aging dogs deal with this issue at some point in their lives. As a responsible dog owner, it is important for you to learn everything you can about combating dog arthritis in your pet.

Read through the information below to get a better idea of what dog arthritis is, what its symptoms look like, and what you can do to help your dog, too. With the help of this guide, you can form a better plan for assisting your dog should they have arthritis.


What is Dog Arthritis?

Dog arthritis is a condition that affects the joints of dogs. Just like arthritis in humans, arthritis in dog causes inflammation and pain in the joints, which can lead to a loss of mobility.

Arthritis can worsen to the point that dogs are unable to walk or move around comfortably much at all. However, with the proper management plan, you can help your dog prevent severe arthritis.

What are the Risk Factors if your Dog has Arthritis?

There are a few different factors that could increase the likelihood that a dog develops arthritis. 


The older a dog is, the more likely they are to suffer from arthritis. Just like humans, the aging in process in dogs can contribute to arthritis significantly.


Heavier dogs are somewhat more likely to develop arthritis than lighter dogs. This is true of both overweight dogs and breeds that simply weigh more naturally than others.


Certain breeds are predisposed to develop arthritis, and may do so at an early age. German Shepherds are often known to develop arthritis in their youth, for example.

Other Illness

If your dog has other health problems or chronic conditions, they may be at a greater risk of arthritis as well.

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

If your dog is showing any of these symptoms it is important to talk with your veterinarian about dog arthritis. 


Stiffness is common in dogs who have arthritis. You may particularly notice that your dog is stiff and slow to start when waking up from a long nap or first thing in the morning. They may also have difficulty walking up and down stairs due to this stiffness, too.

Lack of Activity

A dog who has arthritis is less likely to want to get up and move around than a healthy dog. If you notice your dog’s activity levels dwindling, they may be dealing with arthritis.

Swelling of the Joints

Sometimes, a dog’s arthritis is so severe that you can visibly see how swollen their joints have become. Although this severity is not common, it can still happen, so be on the lookout for signs of swelling or redness in and around your dog’s joints.

Pain Behaviors

Dogs tend to hide their pain from their human family members often. However, if you notice pain behaviors in your dog—especially surrounding their joints—this can be a sign of arthritis. Your dog may hide or become fearful when they are in pain, or they may become aggressive, especially if you try to touch their sore joints. Your dog may lick and chew their joints obsessively in an attempt to relieve this pain as well.

Are there Treatments for Dog Arthritis?

There are a few different options that can help your dog with their arthritis.

Orthopedic Bed

An orthopedic dog bed can provide some comfort and support to achy joints. Your dog may be more energetic when waking up from a nap when they have a chance to sleep on this type of bed.

Warming Pad

A warming pad can be a useful way to help your dog stay comfortable. Choose a pad that uses your dog’s own body heat, rather than one you microwave or plug in, to prevent the risk of burns.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy may be recommended for dogs with moderate to severe arthritis. You may need to take your dog in multiple times per week for this type of physical therapy, depending on the specifics of the situation.

Pain Medication

If your dog’s arthritis is causing them a lot of pain, your vet will likely prescribe pain medication. Your dog may need to take this medication daily for severe arthritis, but they may also simply need to take it on an as-needed basis for mild to moderate arthritis instead. Your vet can give you more information about dosages and frequency of medication.

Your Veterinarian Can Help with Your Dog’s Arthritis

This information only scratches the surface of dog arthritis, and it is important to dive deeper when you’re looking for ways to help your dog deal with this chronic condition. Be sure to talk to your vet for more information that is specific to your individual dog’s health and wellness needs, too.

With the help of a trusted Heart + Paw vet, you can formulate the right plan for managing your dog’s arthritis and helping them stay as active and mobile as possible. Stay on top of your dog’s wellness needs to ensure their twilight years are healthy ones. Book an appointment online at any of our Heart + Paw locations for your dog today!


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About Us

Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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