How to spot arthritis in dogs


Arthritis can be a testing condition for humans, let alone dogs or cats. It’s an inflammatory joint disease and is very common in older dogs. The pet can experience stiffness in their limbs, worsened by cold or damp weather. The condition can also affect younger dogs, especially those with a genetic predisposition and it can become debilitating over time as the disease is almost always irreversible.

What are the symptoms of arthritis in dogs?

There are several symptoms of dog arthritis although not all of them are immediately obvious. Spotting them will depend on how well you know your pet, as it is more than likely he or she will feel depressed with the condition as it worsens over time. The following are symptoms you would expect to see in an arthritic dog:

Reluctance to move

You may notice your usually-spritely dog is not as keen to go on long walks and may be unwilling to get up when lying down. They may sleep more than usual and take a long time to get up after a nap. They tend to lose interest in playing compared to how they normally would and are less likely to run up the stairs or jump around.

Weight gain

As pets find they are more and more unable to move, they may be prone to putting on weight as they are less able to get around. At the same time, they may also suffer with a loss of appetite as they fail to concentrate on their food.

Swollen joints

You may notice that your pet’s joints are warm and/or tender. There may also be visible deformities in the joints.


Dogs may become aggressive when their joints are touched, and this is simply down to the pain they are experiencing. Canines can also suffer with depression and become irritable with the condition as it can stop them going about their usual business.

Which dogs are more susceptible to arthritis?

Large breeds such as Labradors and Great Danes are generally more susceptible to arthritis although it can still occur in small and medium-sized dogs. Any dog that carries excess weight for that breed, is also more likely to develop arthritis due to more pressure on the ligaments, muscles and joints.

What are the causes of arthritis in dogs?

Causes of dog arthritis is different than of arthritis in humans. In humans, the condition is thought the be age-related whereas in dogs, it is generally brought on by an infection, developmental disorder such as hip dysplasia or an injury to a joint, such as a ruptured ligament.

How to treat arthritis in dogs

There is no official method for treating dog arthritis but your vet may offer some advice or prescribe some medicine to ease your pet’s pain.  Exercise and massage are good ways to improve your pet’s quality of life if you are able to get them out and about. Stretching also helps by helping to increase the joints’ mobility. If your pet’s arthritis is so progressed that they need to take medication to alleviate the pain, you could also try a holistic approach and investigate alternative treatments. To protect yourself from any costly vet bills that occur when treating your pet for arthritis, you may want to consider taking out a pet insurance policy. So now you know a bit more about how to spot arthritis in your dog and a few different ways to relieve the pain, you can help ensure your pet continues to live a comfortable and happy life.

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