How to Manage Arthritis in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can develop conditions that can impact their physical health. Because of all of the running and jumping that they do, their joints can take a serious beating – and for many dogs, that can become a problem; namely, arthritis.

Arthritis is a condition that impacts the health of the joints. It is marked by the following symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • An awkward gait
  • Difficulty moving

Signs of Arthritis in Dogs

If your dog is developing arthritis, you may notice one or more of the following signs:

  • Difficulty moving, especially after exercising or resting
  • The development of an awkward gait, which may include a “hitch” in his step, or a lop-sided walk
  • Lameness, or holding the limb up or in a strange way

Are all Dogs Prone to Arthritis?

Yes, though there are some factors that can increase the likelihood of developing this joint condition. Bigger dogs, in general, are more prone to arthritis. Since they are heavier and their joints have more weight to carry, they are more susceptible to wear and tear, and thus, arthritis. The following dog breeds are most commonly affected by arthritis:

  • Newfoundlands
  • Rottweilers
  • Great Danes

Treating Arthritis in Dogs

There are various ways to treat arthritis in dogs. First and foremost, your vet will need to perform a full physical examination to properly determine if your pet is suffering from arthritis or another type of joint problem, like dysplasia.

If your canine companion is diagnosed with arthritis, there are different treatment options that your vet will likely recommend. They can include any of the following:

  • Providing your dog with well-padded bedding areas that are situated in warm, dry areas, which will prevent the development of pressure-point calluses. You can also pad steps or floors that your pet frequently walks on, and provide him with a ramp to get up on beds, couches, or other high areas that he likes to go on.
  • Give your dog massages. Muscle massages will stimulate the flow of blood to the joints, preventing them from atrophying. You can take your pet to a certified canine massage therapist, or you can ask your vet to teach you techniques that you can do on your own.
  • Offer him glucosamine. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance in the joints that helps keep them moving. Giving your dog glucosamine-infused food and/or supplements can help to ease the pain and stiffness that arthritis is causing.
  • Regular exercise will also help your dog’s condition. The more active your pet is, the less stiff his joints will become. Take him on regular walks, play fetch, or take him swimming, for example, to keep the muscles moving.
  • Steroid injections, provided by your veterinarian, can help to reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis, which can help to ease your pet’s pain and increase range of motion.

If you suspect that your dog has developed arthritis, your first step for treatment is to take him to the vet for a full evaluation. Together, you and your vet can create the most effective treatment option.