5 Symptoms Of Canine Arthritis And How To Ease Your Dog’s Pain


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Many dogs develop arthritis as they age and others are unfortunate enough to suffer from early onset due to a variety of reasons. If you notice symptoms of arthritis in your dog, it’s recommended to get them checked out by a veterinarian. That way, you can make sure to identify the problem and work at keeping your dog comfortable no matter the severity of the arthritis. Keep reading to find out more about canine arthritis, how to spot it, and ways you can help your dog stay in good health.

What is Arthritis in Dogs?

Arthritis in dogs is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation and deterioration of the joints, causing pain and decreased mobility. It most commonly affects older dogs but can occur at any age due to various factors such as injury, genetic predisposition, or obesity. The most prevalent form of arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, which results from the gradual deterioration of cartilage in the joints.

While there’s no cure for arthritis, it can be managed with treatments like medications for pain relief, weight management, gentle exercise, and sometimes surgical intervention, all aimed at improving the dog’s quality of life and mobility.

Tired senior dog

Can Arthritis Be Cured?

No, unfortunately, arthritis cannot be cured. However, there are plenty of ways to manage arthritis to ensure your dog continues to live a happy and comfortable life.

What Dog Breeds Are Prone to Arthritis?

Any dog breed can get arthritis, but it’s more common in some than others. Large breeds, active breeds, and breeds prone to genetic issues like intervertebral disc disease are more likely to suffer from arthritis. Here’s a list of breeds that are at a high risk:

  • Australian Shepherds
  • Basset Hounds
  • Border Collies
  • Dachshunds
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Great Danes
  • Huskies
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Mastiffs
  • Newfoundlands
  • Rottweilers
  • Saint Bernards

If you have one of these breeds, a similar breed, or a dog that’s mixed with one or more of these breeds, they may face arthritis at some point in their life. To prepare, talk to your vet about your concerns so they can offer advice on how to help your dog.

What Age is the Most at Risk?

Canine arthritis can occur at any age, but it’s most common in senior dogs. The age a dog becomes a senior depends on the dog’s breed and size. Smaller breeds are typically a senior at around 10-12 years old, medium breeds are usually a senior at around 8-10 years old, and large breeds can be considered a senior as early as 6-8 years old due to their shorter lifespan.

However, if your dog is overweight, has injuries, or has mobility issues, there’s a higher risk of them dealing with arthritis before their senior years. Make sure your dog gets regular health checkups so you can spot symptoms of arthritis early on.

Senior dog with tennis ball

Symptoms of Canine Arthritis

If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

1. Stiffness

Arthritis causes joint pain and the most obvious sign of the condition is stiffness. If you notice your dog is moving more slowly and seems to be stiff in the joints or the entire body, there’s a good chance arthritis is setting in and causing problems.

2. Reluctance to Move

Along with the stiffness comes the reluctance to move. Some dogs won’t want to get out of bed or go for walks because their joints are hurting them. If you realize your dog is becoming less and less active, even if they still seem full of energy, their aching joints may be to blame.

3. Refusing Certain Positions

Depending on the location and severity of the arthritis, it may be uncomfortable for your dog to sit or lay in certain positions. You might notice they start to avoid sitting or lying down at all, even when you ask them to. As a result, your dog may be restless at night.

Feeling dog's joints

4. Pain When Touched

Arthritis can cause pain not only with movement but with palpation as well. If you notice your dog cries or walks away when being touched, it might be because a particular area is painful. Even light petting can cause pain in an arthritic dog.

5. Avoiding Stairs and Jumping

If your dog loves to run and jump, such as dogs trained for agility or pups that live in homes with lots of stairs, arthritis can have a huge impact. Severe joint pain can cause even the most active pups to avoid running up stairs or jumping on furniture.

Treatments for Canine Arthritis

While arthritis can’t be cured, some treatments can help manage the symptoms. Below are some methods for keeping a dog with arthritis comfortable, but you should talk to your vet to get personalized advice.

Special Nutrition

Proper nutrition can help dogs feel better from nose to tail, even if they have arthritis. Make sure you’re feeding them the correct portion daily because gaining too much weight can be harder on your dog’s joints. If your furry friend is already obese, talk to your vet about adjusting your dog’s portions or giving them a special weight management food.

Your dog’s meals should consist of items like glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega fatty acids to promote healthy joints and improved mobility. Senior-specific foods, such as Orjen Senior and Nulo Freestyle Senior can keep an aging arthritic dog healthy. Personalized food plans, such as Ollie and Nom Nom, can also be good for dogs with arthritis because the servings and recipes are chosen based on your dog’s specific needs.

Joint Supplements

Supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin can help improve mobility and make your dog’s joints feel better. Even if your dog doesn’t have arthritis, these types of supplements can be beneficial for all senior dogs.

Some examples of effective joint supplements include the iHeartDogs Hip and Joint Supplements, the Zesty Paws Mobility Bites, and the Pet Honesty Hemp Hip + Joint Senior Supplements. CBD products, such as the Cannanine CBD Hemp Oil for Dogs, may also help with your dog’s joints and mobility. Even though you don’t need a prescription for these supplements, it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet before serving them.

Giving dog joint medications

Pain Medications

Supplements are not enough for all cases of arthritis. Many dogs need special pain medications prescribed by a veterinarian. Talk to your vet about your options to find out if prescribed medications are ideal for your dog.

Physical Rehabilitation

Just because a dog has arthritis doesn’t mean they should stay still at all times. Physical therapy can be a great way to keep their joints and mobility in good condition. Chiropractic medicine, massages, and underwater treadmills are all ways to physically help your dog stay in shape even with aching joints.

Also, it’s okay to still exercise your dog as long as it’s in moderation. Take them for multiple short walks throughout the day instead of long hikes. Be prepared to take regular breaks when exercising with an arthritic dog.

Orthopedic Bedding

If your dog’s joints are bothering them, not all dog beds will be comfortable to rest on. To keep your dog as cozy as possible, look for beds specifically made for dogs with arthritis. Beds with orthopedic foam, such as Bully Beds and the FurHaven Luxe Lounger, can morph around your dog’s body to cradle their joints. Elevated beds, such as the K&H Elevated Pet Cot, can also benefit arthritis by keeping your dog’s joints raised off the ground.


Since dogs with arthritis may not feel comfortable jumping up onto furniture anymore, that can restrict the areas of the house they can enjoy. Buying a dog ramp for beds, couches, cars, or other elevated surfaces can help senior dogs and dogs with joint pain more easily access high places without needing to jump.

The PetSafe CozyUp Wooden Ramp is a great choice for helping dogs onto furniture while the Gen7Pets Foldable Ramp can help your dog get into the car. Small stairs, like the Majestic Pet Stairs, can also make it easier for dogs with arthritis to get onto furniture without jumping.

Dog walking down ramp

Elevated Bowls

Raised food and water bowls are a small change in your dog’s routine that can make a big impact. The less your dog needs to bend down to eat and drink, the easier it will be on their joints. Some products to consider are the OurPets Comfort Elevated Bowls and the Frisco Marble Printed Elevated Bowls.


In extreme cases, surgical procedures may be the best way to manage your dog’s pain. Surgeries could consist of replacing hips or joints, stabilizing joints, or removing bone chips. Your vet can determine if surgery is necessary for your dog’s needs.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know more about arthritis, you can keep an eye out for signs of arthritis in your dog and follow treatment methods if needed. Arthritis is a common issue for senior dogs, especially for large, active breeds. Even though it isn’t curable, a loving dog parent can still manage it to give their dog a long, healthy, and comfortable life.

iHeartDogs is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.


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