Dog putting its paw on a person’s hand

The Different Signs of Arthritis in Dogs and How to Treat Them

Arthritis is one of the most common ailments that plague dogs. Some breeds may even exhibit symptoms of the condition when they’re younger, particularly larger canines like Great Danes, Rottweilers, and Golden Retrievers.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to identify signs of arthritis in dogs as they can be quite adept at hiding the condition, especially in the early stages. So, how do you spot this condition in your dog? 

This blog will discuss what symptoms to watch out for, possible treatment options, and how to prevent arthritis in dogs.

Signs of Arthritis in Dogs

Though your dog may not be able to tell you how they feel, you can tell if they’re suffering from arthritis if you notice them exhibiting the following symptoms:

Reduced activity levels

Changes in physical activity are one of the earliest signs of arthritis in dogs. If your pet is typically a ball of energy but now spends most of their days lying down or slowly walking around, they may be showing signs of the condition.

Easily irritated

Arthritis can be pretty uncomfortable for your pet, which is why they’re prone to becoming irritable and withdrawn if they have it. 

They’ll no longer crave your attention and affection like they used to. Instead, they may snap or even attempt to bite you if you try to touch them, especially if you’re handling the area most affected by the condition.


Once the condition progresses, your dog may begin limping and favoring one leg over the other. If arthritis affects the spine, you may observe lameness in both legs.

Excessive licking of the affected area

A dog with arthritis will typically pay excessive attention to their painful joints. As a result, they may lick or chew the area, sometimes leading to self-harm which manifests in hair loss and inflamed skin.

Drastic behavioral changes

Chronic pain can tire out and irritate your dog, which is why they may want to spend their days in quiet areas, away from people and other pets. They’ll also avoid activities they once enjoyed, like routine walks and playtime in your backyard.

How to Prevent Arthritis in Dogs

Before moving forward, understand that preventing arthritis in dogs is impossible. The condition is part of your dog’s health decline as they age, and you cannot stop its progression completely. 

What you can do, however, is to prolong its onset. Even if your dog has arthritis, you can still improve its quality of life by implementing regular routines.

How to Treat Arthritis in Dogs

Supplements for arthritis in dogs

Fish oil is a supplement that contains omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which can drastically decrease inflammation. 

However, take care not to give too much of it to your pet. Doing so may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, slow wound healing, weight gain, and more. The appropriate dose to give depends on your dog’s weight. 

For example, dogs who weigh roughly 5 lbs will only need 230 mg to 574 mg a day, while 50-lbs dogs may require 2270 mg to 3227 mg daily. 

Other natural sources of EPA and DHA include sardines, salmon, and anchovies. You can also find them in supplements, but you should ensure you’re buying one registered for pet use. Always consult your vet before administering fish oil to your dog.

Chondroitin and glucosamine

Chondroitin and glucosamine are natural compounds that help repair joints and cartilage. Natural sources of chondroitin include the following:

  • Fish
  • Pig trachea
  • Bird cartilage
  • Squid cartilage
  • Green-lipped mussels

Meanwhile, glucosamine is found in:

  • Trachea
  • Chicken feet
  • Oxtails and pigtails
  • Beef knuckle bones
  • Bone broth
  • Shellfish shells

Aside from natural sources, you can also give your dog supplements containing these compounds. Before you do, ask your vet for recommendations of what to give. Moreover, while chondroitin and glucosamine are separate compounds, they’re most effective when taken together.

You should also avoid giving glucosamine to your dog if they have diabetes since it’s an amino sugar. Chondroitin and glucosamine are also detrimental for dogs with allergies as they’re derived from crustacean shells.

Finally, avoid giving chondroitin to your dog if they’re taking blood thinners. Chondroitin has a blood-thinning effect that, if used with blood-thinning drugs, will result in excessive bleeding. 

Exercise for weight loss and management

Weight management is an effective and natural way to relieve arthritis pain in dogs. Excessive weight puts unnecessary strain on your pet’s joints, aggravating pain and worsening their condition.

You can address this by asking your vet to develop an appropriate weight loss program for your pet. If your dog is already obese and has arthritis, hydrotherapy is typically recommended. 

Hydrotherapy is a type of physical activity where your dog performs exercises in the water. The buoyancy helps mitigate stress on the affected joints, while water resistance will enhance your dog’s cardiovascular and muscular endurance.

Proper diet

A proper diet is crucial to relieving arthritis pain in dogs since it helps them maintain a healthy weight and reduce inflammation.  

There’s no one-size-fits-all food plan since each dog is different, so you’ll need to consult your vet to see which plan works for your pet. 

They’ll be able to suggest the right food and the appropriate portion to serve them. They may also recommend certain exercises and regular weight monitoring to ensure your pet stays in optimal shape.

Adjustments to the environment

You can modify your home to help your pet move around easier. For example, you can consider installing ramps, adding carpets for better traction, elevating food bowls, and providing them with a soft bed to sleep on to improve your dog’s quality of life if they have arthritis.

Early Intervention is Key To Arthritis Pain Relief in Dogs

Though you cannot fully prevent arthritis in dogs, you can still delay its onset and help relieve pain. To effectively slow it down, you should start your intervention early. Feed your dog properly and maintain an active yet comfortable lifestyle to ensure healthy, strong joints. 

In addition, it would help if you also talked to your vet as your pet grows older. Vets are an incredible resource of helpful information that can ensure your pet has the best living condition under your care.