Just like humans, dogs can develop joint problems and suffer from chronic osteoarthritis. Here you can learn everything about the causes, symptoms and treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs.

Arthritis in Dogs

Aging brings on a host of health problems, including those for pets. One of these conditions is arthritis, which affects around one out of every five canines. Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes dogs to develop swelling in one or more of their legs.

Dogs with Arthritis will not simply have an abnormal gait. In addition to that, it will result in a significant amount of agony. This condition is progressive and, in many situations, there is no treatment for it; nevertheless, it can be treated to the extent that its progression can be slowed down as much as possible.

First and foremost, if it is detected when it is still in its early stages, then you will have the opportunity to take steps to mitigate its effects and enhance the animal’s quality of life. But to achieve it, it is essential to detect their symptoms as soon as possible.

Arthritis or Osteoarthritis: What are the differences?

If your dog gets arthritis (inflammation of the joints), one or more joints become inflamed. Typically, arthritis causes the affected joints to swell painfully and become flushed.

In contrast, osteoarthritis (joint wear and tear) causes the joint cartilage to break down progressively and inexorably. This causes the underlying bones to rub against each other so that the joint becomes inflamed during the painful disease, and bony attachments (bone cysts) grow.

What are the Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs?

Among the main symptoms of arthritis in dogs is the difficulty that those affected have to get up and lie down. They may also have more or less stiffness in the affected legs. Because one or several joints may be affected.

In addition, they are reluctant when climbing stairs, or want to jump. They can also stop performing certain movements that they used to do regularly. In parallel, you can hear noises when he bends his legs. 

The dog also has pain, which will make him complain. In any of these cases, it is advisable to consult with the veterinarian so that you can correctly diagnose the ailment. You also have to keep in mind that arthritis in dogs does not only occur in animals of a certain age. It can also affect younger dogs. In these cases, arthritis is usually due to an injury, and also to a strong blow.

In general, inflammation of the joints is typically accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • The organ swells.
  • The tissue becomes flushed.
  • Your dog reacts painfully.
  • The inflamed area becomes warm.
  • The organ loses its function.
  • Your dog sleeps a lot.
  • Your four-legged friend’s appetite decreases.
  • Your furry nose limps or no longer wants to move.
Elderly DOg with Arthritis

What are the Causes of Arthritis in dogs?

To determine how arthritis develops in dogs in the first place, it is important to first look at the different types.

Non-infectious arthritis: As our four-legged friend ages, parts of worn cartilage can become detached as a degenerative consequence in the context of osteoarthritis. The immune system then sounds the alarm and reacts with inflammation in the joint. Older dogs are particularly affected by this. Also, a strong squeezing at the joint, for example, in a door, can cause such a loosening of cartilage parts.

Infectious arthritis: bacteria or other pathogens enter the body and cause inflammation. Accidents caused by bites, falls, or abrasions cause open skin areas through which the germs can enter.

Acute arthritis: The acute form of arthritis occurs suddenly, and there is severe swelling of the joints. They also become warmer than usual, which you can feel in one or more of your dog’s legs. This is also accompanied by lameness and severe restriction of movement.

Immune-related chronic arthritis: In immunological diseases, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of inflammatory joint disease. The immune system’s defensive reaction does not spare the joints, and arthritis is the result.

How to Diagnose Arthritis in Dogs?

If you observe several of the symptoms in your four-legged friend over a longer period of time, you should have your dog examined more closely in a veterinary practice. For a trained eye, arthritis can sometimes be recognized by external symptoms.

To confirm the suspicion, veterinarians use the following diagnostic options:

  • A blood test: when arthritis is present, the number of inflammatory cells in the blood increases.
  • Imaging: An x-ray can distinguish arthritis from osteoarthritis and other joint problems.
  • A puncture: using a cannula, veterinarians can obtain joint fluid (synovial fluid) and examine it for inflammatory parameters.
  • An arthroscopy: By opening the joint, the doctor can examine it more closely using a small camera called an arthroscope.

Whether all procedures are used depends on the severity of the symptoms. Sometimes one procedure is sufficient, but in rare cases, a reliable diagnosis takes a little longer. To avoid high veterinary costs, it is worth taking a look at the benefits of health insurance for dogs.

Diagnosing Arthritis in Dogs by X-Ray

What is the Correct Treatment for Arthritis in Dogs?

Veterinarians treat joint inflammation in dogs depending on its cause. To relieve the inflammation in the joint, the veterinarian administers anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication to your dog. If the joint is severely inflamed, it can also be flushed with a sterile solution at the practice. The advantage here is that medication is applied directly to the joint.

Your quadruped refuses tablets thankfully and does not even think of voluntarily snacking on the little pills? Liver paste for dogs is your assistant in need and helps you to feed the medication more easily.

If the vet has diagnosed a bacterial infection, your dog will also need an antibiotic. If that is not enough, the vet may need to open and flush the joint under anesthesia. In rare cases, he may need to stiffen the joint. In this way, he can protect your dog from more severe damage.

In addition to targeted treatment, supportive measures promote healing. For example, you can cool your dog’s joint with the help of bandages or accelerate the healing processes by means of physiotherapy. In addition, you should take care in everyday life to relieve your dog and avoid painful movements such as jumping.

If your dog is overweight, you should also reconsider his diet. You can get information about this from your vet or simply calculate the amount of food yourself. Furthermore, it is advisable to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine.

However, nutrition can also make a complementary contribution to treatment. There is special dog food with components for the health of cartilage and joints.

The included green-lipped mussel can be seen as a superfood with its true superpowers: Its meat contains the glucosaminoglycans chondroitin and glucosamine, which can support cartilage metabolism and health.

Dog Knee Arthritis: 5 Natural Solutions

SOS: First Aid Tips for Dogs with Arthritis

  • Light massages: Light massages promote both blood circulation and the mobility of the dog. They also give the four-legged friend a sense of calm and security and generally provide more well-being.
  • Patience: Be patient with your four-legged friend. If he suffers from arthritis, you cannot expect him to run at the same speed as other dogs. He needs more time to walk, climb stairs and respond when you call him. Give him the time, and encourage and support him where you can.
  • Sleeping space: if your dog has arthritis, he should sleep on soft materials or in a special bed for dogs with arthritis. For example, there are special waterbeds for dogs or hammock beds.
  • Avoid slippery surfaces: Slippery surfaces often cause fear in dogs with arthritis and, in the worst case, lead to injuries. To avoid this risk, it is recommended to place rugs on wooden floors or tiles. Another option is non-slip dog socks.
  • Wrap up warm: To keep muscles from getting cold and stiff, dress your dog in a coat on cold days.
  • Mobility aids: Special ramps or blocks can help your dog climb stairs or jump on furniture.
  • Quiet: Dogs with arthritis are more sensitive to loudness and chaotic environments. Allow your four-legged friend a quiet retreat – especially if there are children or visitors.
  • Grooming: Dogs with arthritis often have trouble keeping all parts of their bodies clean because they can’t reach some of them well. Assist your four-legged friend with grooming by trimming, brushing and washing the coat.
  • Diet: Overweight dogs put extra stress on bones and joints. Reducing weight can help alleviate arthritis symptoms. The veterinarian can help you create a special diet plan for your dog.
Car Ramp for Dog with Arthritis

Prognosis: What are the chances of recovery for dogs with arthritis?

Provided you have your dog examined early and receive targeted treatment, the chance of recovery is usually good. However, if your dog suffers from chronic rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, the prognosis is less favorable.

However, if you watch your dog’s weight and give him soothing medication, you can significantly improve his quality of life.

Is it possible to prevent arthritis in dogs?

Not every situation in life is predictable. Infectious inflammations caused by injuries can happen quickly, so the only way to prevent them is to take good care of your furry friend and not expose him to unnecessary risk.

Avoiding excess weight is an important factor when it comes to maintaining healthy joints. The higher the load on bones and joints, the faster they wear out.

A balanced and healthy diet ensures a healthy bone and cartilage structure so that the joints are more resistant. In old age, special food for older dogs is worthwhile, but likewise, in puppy age, an adapted feeding is important because only in this way sufficient nutrients for growth can be absorbed.

Categories: BlogsDogs


Dr. Orika Mosquera

Hello, I am Dr. Orika Mosquera Lopez graduated from the free university of colombia sectional Barranquilla as a doctor and surgeon. I work as a General Practitioner with Experience in the Emergency Department, Hospitalization and External Consultation. I love pets, i have 2 cats, Bagheera and Nhala and one Yorkshire Terrier called Princess. I care a lot about the well-being of my animals


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