Did you know that 20 percent of adult dogs have arthritis?

Is your dog reluctant to climb the stairs? Does a thrilling fetch game leave him hobbling later? Is he getting up a bit more slowly than usual?

Naturally, you may be thinking that your pooch is simply old and there’s nothing you can do to help him. This could be true, but there’s another possibility: Your dog may be suffering from arthritis.

Recognizing if your dog has arthritis is the first thing you need to do to get him back to his usual self.

What is arthritis? And how do you tell if your dog may be experiencing arthritic pain? Read on to learn more about the signs your dog has arthritis.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis refers to various diseases that involve the inflammation of at least one joint. This can cause stiffness and pain.

The most common type of arthritis in humans and canines is osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.

It involves damage to the joints due to age-related deterioration or joint injuries, which leads to inflammation and pain in the joints.

Cruciate ligament problems and elbow and hip dysplasia can cause arthritis as well. The most common joints affected include the knees, hips, elbows, and backbone.

How to Tell if Your Dog Has Arthritis

Arthritis is a very common disorder seen in adult dogs. Under the ideal circumstances, even younger dogs can suffer from arthritis.

Arthritis causes painful changes within a dog’s joints. The pain is behind many of the dog arthritis symptoms. Here are 10 common signs of arthritic changes in dogs.


You may see your dog walking lamely or preferring limbs that are affected by arthritis. Often, the limp will look worse when your pooch first stands up. The limp may then become less obvious as your pet’s muscles warm up.

Difficulty Moving

Your dog might also become unwilling to do stuff that was previously a breeze for him. For example, he may find it hard to go up and down the stairs or enter and get out of the car.

Swollen and Stiff Joints

As with humans affected by arthritis, your dog might experience swollen and stiff joints. You can feel their joints gently to check for swelling in the area.

Weight Gain

Pain makes many dogs less mobile than they’d be if they were pain-free. And this means they want for physical activity and exercise, which can cause weight gain.

For starters, some dogs gain extra weight as they age so you shouldn’t be too quick to panic when your own dog gains a few extra pounds. However, significant weight gain due to inactivity can signify a problem.

It’s important to have some idea about the normal weight gain in certain breeds so that you do not overreact to something that’s normal for your breed of dog.


Arthritis can make your dog tired more easily. He may limit walks due to the pain he feels. You may notice that your dog prefers to sleep or rest most of the time.

Spinal Issues

Arthritic pain and changes don’t happen in the joints only, but in the spine too.

These spinal problems may become apparent due to normal posture, lameness in one or both hind legs, or a hunched back. Your dog may also have a sore neck.

Licking, Biting and Chewing

If your dog has arthritis, he may start to chew, bite, or lick the areas affected. If these actions persist, the skin around these areas may lose hair and may be inflamed.


A dog suffering from arthritis can become irritable. He may snap or bite when handled or approached, especially if this aggravates their pain.

Muscle Atrophy

Some dogs suffering from arthritis get muscle atrophy. This is when the muscle tissue dies off, due to decreased use of muscles and inactivity.

If your dog’s muscles have died off, they legs can look a lot thinner than usual.


If your pet just doesn’t seem like himself, this could be due to inflammation and joint pain. Be sure to watch out for changes in behavior, as well as physical activity.

How to Help a Dog Suffering from Arthritis

There are lots of ways to help alleviate dog arthritis symptoms.

In the house: Make sure your arthritic dog has a special bed and well-padded bedding. Keep the sleeping quarters away from damp drafts and cold areas.

Use a ramp or padded steps for your pet to get on and off the bed and couch. For slippery surfaces, place yoga mats or non-skid flooring. Place a sloped ramp instead of steps for your pet to get out of the house easily.

Massage: Massaging your dog’s muscles boosts the flow of blood to the muscles. If you don’t know how to massage him, you should learn the practice from a dog massage therapist.

Warm compresses on sore joints may also help soothe and loosen muscles. This increases blood flow to the muscles.

Laser: Cold laser therapy helps to boost blood flow, which may improve symptoms and provide relief to dogs.

Supplements: Supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, chondroitin, curcumin, MSM, and Boswellia can all help to treat arthritis in dogs. Make sure to consult your veterinarian about the best dosage and combination.

Gentle exercise: No matter the age of your dog, or how severe his arthritis is, he’ll need some sort of exercise.

Make him take part in some gentle activities, such as a nice swim or a leisurely walk. This will help keep his joints moving well, preventing them from getting too stiff.

By exercising your pet regularly and choosing activities based on his abilities, you will make him healthier and happier.

Final Verdict

There’s no question that it’s hard to know if a dog has arthritis. Unless you’re Dr. Dolittle, you simply can’t know what is ailing your dog.

But if you and your dog have a loving a relationship and you pay him enough attention, you’ll see the signs of arthritis if they’re there.

And for some helpful tips related to your own health and fitness, be sure to visit our blog.

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