A watercolor illustration portraying a woman engaging in physical activity with her dog.

Arthritis Treatment Options For Dogs


When Kate noticed her beloved Golden Retriever, Max, struggling to climb the stairs and limping after their daily walks, she couldn’t help but worry about his well-being. After a visit to the veterinarian, she learned that Max had developed arthritis, a condition that affects many dogs, particularly as they age. Determined to alleviate Max’s pain and improve his quality of life, Kate embarked on a journey to explore the various treatment options available for canine arthritis.

Arthritis in dogs is a common condition that can cause pain and reduced mobility. It is caused by the gradual wearing away of the cartilage between joints, leading to discomfort and pain. If left untreated, this may diminish mobility and cause lameness. Rheumatoid arthritis is much more common in pets over 10, and veterinarians identify it most frequently in seniors and cats.

Reducing pain, maintaining muscle mass, and preserving joint mobility should be the main goals of arthritis treatment. In addition, a combination of treatments is recommended to achieve the best results, such as medications, physical therapy, weight management, supplements, and lifestyle changes.

In this article, we’ll talk about proven alternative treatment options that could help ease the joint pain associated with your pet’s arthritis. With these treatments combined with traditional medicines, it is possible to get long-term relief from arthritis pain!

Exercise and Weight Management

In the treatment of canine arthritis, exercise is vital, but it should be moderate-impact to avoid further damaging. All kinds of exercise are permissible, including leash walking, controlled jogging, swimming, and underwater treadmills.

arthritis in dogs

If your dog’s arthritis is not managed correctly, weight loss may be required; a weight-loss program should be implemented and closely monitored. Moderate daily exercise, such as short walks, can help dogs with arthritis.

Consult a certified small animal physical rehabilitation practitioner for therapeutic activities like passive stretching and range of motion exercises. Please speak to your veterinarian about the best exercise plan for your dog so that you can ensure that your pup gets the right amount of movement without putting too much strain on its joints.

Exercising with an arthritic dog requires patience and understanding, and it’s essential to start slowly and gradually increasing the intensity over time as your pup’s condition improves. Swimming is especially beneficial for dogs with arthritis because it is a low-impact form of exercise that can help to reduce pain and improve joint mobility.

Prescription Medications

Prescription medications are often used to treat the pain associated with arthritis. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are a commonly prescribed class of drugs for this purpose, including Rimadyl®, Etogesic®, Deramaxx®, and Metacam®. These medications work by reducing inflammation and relieving pain. However, they can also have adverse effects if not taken correctly or combined with other medicines. Therefore, veterinarians must decide if a dog is suitable for NSAIDs before prescribing them.

Non-NSAID painkillers may be used to treat arthritis discomfort in addition to NSAIDs. Tramadol, buprenorphine, fentanyl, amantadine, and gabapentin are among the drugs mentioned. The risk of side effects may be reduced while complete pain relief is achieved by combining various medications. Corticosteroid anti-inflammatory drugs, for example, may be used in conjunction with or instead of NSAIDs.


Nutraceuticals are dietary supplements that can help build joint cartilage and reduce the effects of destructive enzymes in an osteoarthritic joint. Supplementation with nutraceuticals is recommended even after routine procedures that may result in osteoarthritis due to their lack of significant side effects.

Quality products explicitly formulated for joint dog health include Nutramax Dasuquin, Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d dry and wet dog food, Bayer’s Free Form, and Nutramax Welactin. These products contain MSM, glucosamine hydrochloride, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, and chondroitin sulfate, which can help support joint dog health.

It is important to note that nutraceuticals should be used early in the course of osteoarthritis to slow down its progression rather than expecting a quick or dramatic response. Additionally, it is always best to consult your veterinarian before adding oral supplements to your dog.

Medications, supplements, and specialized diets can benefit pets’ joint health. However, discussing these options with your veterinarian to ensure they are safe and effective for your pet’s specific condition is essential. Your veterinarian can also guide the correct dosage and frequency of any medications or supplements prescribed. With the right combination of treatments, you can help keep your pet’s joints healthy and reduce their discomfort from joint disease.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for humans’ and animals’ health and well-being. For example, studies have shown that they can reduce inflammation in arthritic joints, making them an excellent natural remedy for joint pain. EPA is the most effective omega-3 fatty acid for pets and can be found in salmon oil and typical diets. In addition, fish oil has been proven more effective than Glucosamine products at alleviating symptoms associated with arthritis.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for overall health, as they help to regulate cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, improve brain function, and even boost immunity. In addition, they can also help to reduce inflammation throughout your pet’s body, which can lead to improved energy levels and better overall health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a vital part of any pet’s diet, as they provide essential nutrients that cannot be obtained from other sources. Adding fish or salmon oil to your pet’s diet is an easy way to ensure they get the omega-3 fatty acids they need for optimal health.

Glucosamine/Chondroitin Sulfate Containing Agents

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are two popular nutraceuticals used to treat joint pain and inflammation in dogs. These dietary supplements are not subject to the same stringent regulatory guidelines as pharmaceuticals, but research indicates beneficial effects from specific glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate-containing agents. Cosequin®, Dasuquin®, and Glycoflex III® are three such agents that have been studied for their potential to reduce joint pain and inflammation.

Dasuquin is particularly noteworthy in this regard, as it combines glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate ingredients with avocado-soya unsaponifiable, which can decrease inflammation and pain scores in human osteoarthritis trials.

This combination of ingredients is more effective than glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate in reducing osteoarthritis symptoms. At the same time, these nutraceuticals may not be a substitute for traditional medical treatments.

Adequan and Polyglycan

Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycans (PSGAGs) and Polyglycan SA are drugs used to treat acute joint cartilage injuries and arthritis in dogs and cats. They help to repair damaged cartilage by interfering with destructive pathways in the joint.

The treatment plan for these drugs involves a series of injections twice weekly for four weeks. This is done to determine if the patient responds well to the treatment. After that, we will implement a plan to continue the injections as needed if a response is seen.

The use of PSGAGs and Polyglycan SA is effective in treating joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness associated with arthritis in dogs and cats. It can also help improve mobility and quality of life for animals suffering from these conditions. However, pet owners must consult their veterinarian before beginning any treatment plan involving PSGAGs or Polyglycan SA, as there may be potential side effects or interactions.

Using Complimentary Alternative Therapies in Pets

Complimentary alternative therapies are becoming increasingly popular for treating a variety of ailments in both humans and animals. These treatments can relieve pain, inflammation, and other symptoms without using traditional medications or surgery. For example, joint injections may include hyaluronic acid, steroids, PRP, and stem cells to reduce inflammation and improve joint function.

Alternative treatments such as low-level laser therapy, shockwave therapy, and acupuncture can also reduce pain and improve mobility. Veterinarians may also recommend physiotherapy, changes in diet, or cold laser therapy to help manage chronic conditions.

With the right combination of treatments tailored to each patient’s needs, complementary alternative therapies can provide effective relief from pain and discomfort while avoiding the risks associated with more invasive procedures.

arthritis in dogs

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is a promising new treatment for canine joint problems, currently in its experimental phase and available in certain areas. MSCs are progenitor cells that can differentiate into different cell types, such as connective tissue, bone, and cartilage.

The effects of MSCs are primarily exerted through their secreted factors, including extracellular vesicles (EVs) and bioactive molecules such as chemokines, cytokines, and growth factors. Adipose tissue-derived MSCs (ADSCs) is the favored source of MSCs for clinical use in dogs due to the relative ease of accessibility and rapid rate of proliferation in culture.

Clinical trials involving MSCs in dogs with osteoarthritis have shown beneficial outcomes, with some studies demonstrating significant improvement in subjective clinical signs. In addition, studies utilizing objective outcome measurements such as force plate gait analysis have also been conducted, with results indicating improved mobility and reduced pain.

Surgical Alternatives

Surgical procedures may be suggested as a last resort if other medical and alternative treatments are unsuccessful. In addition, restorative surgeries can fix hereditary disfigurements and stabilize the joint and are often recommended for younger dogs that haven’t fully developed arthritis yet.

Treatment options for arthritis in dogs focus on relieving pain and promoting increased mobility and strength, with multiple treatment options often used simultaneously to reduce side effects.

Surgery may involve joint stabilization, removal of cartilage/bony chips, or joint replacement with a prosthetic joint. Fusion of the joint (arthrodesis) is an option for the hock and wrist, while the femoral head and neck osteotomy is an option for the hip joint.

I’d appreciate it if you could discuss the risks and benefits of any surgical procedure with your veterinarian before deciding whether surgery is right for your pet. With proper care and rehabilitation following surgery, many pets can return to their normal activities with improved quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Prescription pain relief for dogs with arthritis may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids. NSAIDs help reduce inflammation in the joints while also providing analgesic effects by blocking the production of substances released by the joint tissue in response to injury or infection.

Common NSAID medications for dogs with arthritis include carprofen (Rimadyl), meloxicam (Metacam), and deracoxib (Deramaxx). Corticosteroids can also be used to treat more severe cases of canine arthritis as they have powerful anti-inflammatory properties; however, they should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian as they can cause various side effects.

CBD oil (Cannabidiol) to treat pain in dogs with arthritis is becoming increasingly popular due to its potential anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies suggest that CBD oil may help reduce inflammation in the joints and muscles, which can help relieve discomfort and stiffness associated with arthritis. However, it is essential to note that while there are some promising results from these studies, more research is needed on the efficacy of CBD oil for this purpose.

Heating pads can benefit dogs with arthritis, as they may help reduce pain and allow increased flexibility and movement. In addition, heat has natural calming effects that could relieve joint stiffness and soreness.

However, heating pads should always be used with caution. Canine arthritis tend to have problem areas due to compression of joints which can cause the skin over these areas to become fragile, which can result in burns if the heating pad is too hot for prolonged periods. So, please make sure the heat level is set correctly to avoid potential burns or other injuries.

Additionally, never leave your dog unattended while using a heating pad, as she may accidentally knock it over or shift its position on herself.

It’s also important to check with your veterinarian before using a heating pad for your arthritic dog. Your vet might even recommend an electric one you would need to plug into an outlet versus one that runs off batteries or heats up after being put in the microwave for a few minutes.

Furthermore, some dogs don’t seem to tolerate heated pads, regardless of how low the temperature setting is. Hence, it’s best to get advice first rather than trying it out yourself, only to find out that it causes more discomfort than relief in your feline companion.

The new injection for dogs with arthritis is called Adequan Canine. It is a polysulfated glucosamine glycopeptide that helps to treat and prevent joint dysfunction in dogs. This drug works by helping restore the cartilage in arthritic joints, reducing inflammation, and improving synovial fluid levels. Because it works uniquely, Adequan Canine can be used as both an early intervention treatment for mild cases of arthritis as well as an effective solution for more severe arthritis.

Adequan Canine has been proven highly effective in managing pain and encouraging mobility in arthritic canine patients. Many veterinarians have seen great success when administering this injectable medication, with some reporting near-total elimination of joint pain within 30 days of treatment. The best part about Adequan Canine is that it doesn’t just alleviate the signs of painful joints – research shows that it protects the joint from further damage caused by wear and tear or overuse.

Many foods may aggravate arthritis in dogs depending on their sensitivities. Still, most commonly, these include dairy products, processed meats and grains, greasy or fatty foods, foods that contain artificial sweeteners, high-protein diets, and overly salty food items. In addition, ingredients such as beef byproducts, corn gluten meal, wheat middling, and high carbohydrates within the dog’s diet are also known for causing inflammation which can increase joint pain.

Foods that can particularly help to lessen arthritis-related aches and pains in pets include salmon fish oil, sea cucumber powder, oats, barley, and other whole grains which contain numerous vitamins, including vitamin E. Omega 3 fatty acids supplement like Flax seed powder or ground flaxseeds have anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce arthritic symptoms.

Vitamins C & D are potent antioxidants that reduce free radicals. At the same time, Vitamin K acts as a calcium sponge helping to protect cartilage from deterioration and build connective tissue around bones. In addition, omega-six fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects, so adding hemp seeds or walnuts to a dog’s diet benefits overall health and prevents further joint damage caused by arthritis.

Older dogs, who may suffer from joint diseases such as arthritis, will benefit greatly from a warm water diet and food high in fats and proteins. Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to reduce inflammation.

Quality protein sources should also be included in the older dog’s diet, such as eggs and lean meats like chicken, turkey, or lean beef. Brown rice is also beneficial for helping to stabilize blood glucose levels in older dogs with diabetes or arthritis.

Older dogs may need more frequent and shorter exercise periods to ensure their joints remain mobile and robust. For example, a ramp or stairs may be helpful if the dog needs assistance getting onto furniture or into vehicles due to joint pain or weakness. Swimming is an excellent alternative for low-impact exercise for senior dogs with arthritis because running doesn’t put stress on the joints.

The best and safest treatment for arthritis for pets depends on the specific condition, age, weight, health, and other associated conditions. However, most experts recommend treating pets with medications prescribed by a veterinarian or with supplements such as joint support products.

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on the individual dog’s medical history and symptoms. Some potential safe, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include carpfofen, meloxicam, and gapiprant. It is essential to discuss any medication choices with a veterinarian before giving them to your pet.

The most common cause of arthritis in pets is genetic. Pets with familial (inherited) forms of arthritis generally have a good prognosis and may not experience symptoms until the late stages of the disease. However, many pets develop degenerative joint disease as they age, even if their families do not have the inherited form of the condition.

There is no single effective natural treatment for arthritis for pets. Many remedies, including enzymes and herbs, may work well for some pets but not others. I want to point out that speaking with a veterinarian about the best action for your pet’s specific condition is essential.

Untreated arthritis in pets can cause several health problems, including difficulty moving around and weakness. In extreme cases, untreated arthritis may lead to Cataracts or joint deterioration that requires surgery.

When managing dogs with degenerative joint disease (DJD), also known as osteoarthritis, it’s important to focus on maintaining a healthy weight and providing a diet that supports joint health. Certain foods should be avoided or limited to help manage the condition:

  1. High-Calorie Foods and Treats: Obesity can exacerbate joint problems by increasing the load on the joints. Avoid feeding your dog high-calorie foods and treats that can contribute to weight gain.
  2. High-Fat Foods: Excessive fat in the diet can lead to weight gain and inflammation, which can worsen joint pain. It’s important to provide a balanced diet with an appropriate amount of fat.
  3. Processed Foods: Some processed dog foods may contain additives or preservatives that could potentially aggravate inflammation. Choose high-quality, natural foods when possible.
  4. Excessive Carbohydrates and Sugars: Diets high in carbohydrates and sugars can lead to weight gain and may also increase inflammation.
  5. Allergenic Foods: If your dog has a known allergy or sensitivity (like to certain grains, beef, chicken, etc.), these should be avoided as they can contribute to systemic inflammation.
  6. Excessive Salt: While not directly related to joint health, excessive salt intake can lead to other health issues that could complicate the management of DJD.

It’s also beneficial to include foods or supplements that support joint health:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fish oils, they can help reduce joint inflammation.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin: Often included in joint health supplements, they can help support cartilage health.
  • Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Foods high in antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.

Always consult with a veterinarian before making significant changes to your dog’s diet, especially if they have a medical condition like DJD. A vet can provide tailored dietary recommendations and may also suggest specialized prescription diets designed for joint health.

There is limited research on glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for treating osteoarthritis in pets, so it is challenging to provide a definitive answer. Some studies have shown that these supplements may help improve joint function and relieve pain in pets with this condition, but more research is needed before we can say if they are helpful. If your pet has arthritis of the hand, talk to their veterinarian about whether or not taking glucosamine or chondroitin supplements might be a good option for them.

Arthritis is diagnosed by a veterinarian using x-rays and examining the pet’s joints.

The most common types of arthritis in pets are degenerative joint disease (DJD), inflammatory joint disease (IJD), and rheumatoid arthritis.

There are many treatment options for osteoarthritis, and discussing your specific symptoms and needs with a doctor is best. Possible treatments include NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): These medications can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. Examples of NSAIDs include include carpfofen, meloxicam, and gapiprant.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

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