Dog Arthritis:  Symptoms, Types, and Treatments

Does your pooch seem a little 'off'?  Playing less, irritable, limping, or even sleeping more?  While there can be many reasons for these things at any age, arthritis in dogs is very common as it is in people.    

This is an overview of dog arthritis- common symptoms, different types of arthritis and possible treatment options- to help your pup stay happy and healthy for as long as possible!

Our Aussiedoodle, Waylon, is a huge part of our family, so we want the same for him!

Common Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs:

  • Difficulty getting up and down
  • Walking stiffly or seems protective of one or more limbs
  • Reluctance to go up and/or down stairs
  • Hesitant to jump up or down (on/off furniture or in/out of a vehicle)
  • Stiff, swollen, or sore joints
  • Sensitive when touched on some parts of the body
  • Loss of overall endurance
  • Lost interest in playfulness
  • Unexpected aggression towards other dogs or towards humans

Common Types of Arthritis in Dogs:

Acute Traumatic Arthritis in pets generally manifests as a swelling and lameness and is almost always a direct result of trauma to the joints. While this type can never be directly avoided, it is one of the few types of arthritis that may require immediate surgical intervention to prevent the onset of osteoarthritis.

Auto Immune Arthritis in pets is also known as rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system attacks the joints and typically affects several joints at once. The synovial membranes become inflamed, and mobility will lessen. The cause of auto immune arthritis is unknown.

Degenerative Joint Disease in pets is generally synonymous with osteoarthritis. Symptoms include a destruction of parts of the joint, generally isolated to the cartilage. Pets with this condition may also experience intermittent inflammation. This condition is one of the most common types of arthritis in pets.

Hip Dysplasia in pets is a type of osteoarthritis that affects the hip joints. This can result from a serious injury or normal wear-and-tear. This disease causes several complications. A common misconception is that hip dysplasia is always an isolated condition. This is not true; it is quite possible for hip dysplasia to spread to other joints as the disease progresses.

Hypertrophic Arthritis in pets has to do with the development of bone spurs. The best analogy to describe a bone spur would be the sensation of walking on a tack all of the time. This generally occurs because of trauma or osteoarthritis.

Infectious Arthritis in pets is characterized by lameness and sore joints. There is always an underlying infectious element to this type of arthritis. This type of arthritis generally occurs because of trauma and secondary infection to the joint. Antibiotics should be used for this type of arthritis.

Inflammatory Arthritis in pets is one of the least common forms of arthritic conditions in pets. Generally, osteoarthritic conditions occur much more frequently as they progress over time. Except when infectious agents are present, the cause of inflammatory arthritis is unknown.

Knee Stifle in pets means they have one or more torn ligaments in the knee. This destabilizes the joint. In extreme cases, this may result in dislocation. As the knee joint is constantly subjected to a great deal of continual strain, pain in this area can be quite debilitating.

Kneecap Dislocation in pets is usually caused by misshapen or malformed leg bones. This results in a “loose” kneecap that can move or dislocate out of its natural position. Knee stifle can also contribute to this condition.

Osteoarthritis in pets is a progressive disease that occurs due to the breakdown and destruction of cartilage. As the disease progresses, the bones (now with far less cartilage to provide shock absorption) begin to grind against one another causing pain, reduced flexibility, inflammation and a reduction in mobility. This is one of the most common types of arthritis in pets.

Osteochondrosis in pets is when the cartilage deteriorates and causes an osteoarthritic like condition. Joint tissue becomes both painful and inflamed. It is speculated that there is a genetic component to this disease, but malnutrition may also be a contributing factor.

Shoulder Degeneration in pets is a disease that has multiple causes. Because the shoulder is more of a sliding joint rather than a ball and socket, it is less prone to injury, but it may still wear down over time. Infection or injury to the joint may be contributing factors. This type of arthritis generally affects the gait of the animal and slows them down.

Rheumatoid Arthritis in pets is similar to rheumatoid arthritis in humans. This type of arthritis occurs when the body attacks itself or is exposed to an infectious agent. Basically, the immune system attacks itself. The cause of this type of arthritis is generally unknown.

Traumatic Arthritis in pets is a catch-all term for arthritis that manifests as a result of trauma to the joints. This kind of arthritis is generally acute and is a direct result of some form of injury. Osteoarthritis in the effected joints commonly develops over time because of this condition.

Common Treatment approaches may include:

  • Nutrition and weight management.  Normalizing body weight and condition are an essential part of the treatment for arthritis.  Your veterinarian may recommend a certain diet which is important to follow for overall health. 
  • Physical activity.  Depending on your dog's current condition and joint health, mild exercise and movement can help maintain mobility, flexibility, and stability of the joints.  Your vet can make specific suggestions.
  • Nutraceuticals.  These are a more natural approach to treatment and can supply your dog's body with additional nutrients to help combat or manage the arthritis.  A liquid joint health nutraceutical is often easy on the stomach and can be easily combined with food or water.
  • Alternative medicine.  Medical acupuncture can provide excellent pain relief for many dogs with arthritis. Likewise, other physical medicine disciplines like chiropractic and medical massage may be useful.
  • Pain medication.  Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs can be used to defend against the pain of arthritis, as prescribed by your veterinarian.


October 10, 2022 — lori glassbrenner