Nearly 20% of all dogs in the U.S. suffer from canine arthritis.  This disease develops gradually over time, and can cause your dog pain and prevent him from performing the simplest of tasks, like climbing the stairs or walking.

An X-ray image shows a healthy hip in contrast to an arthritic hip.

Canine arthritis occurs in your dog’s joints.  A healthy joint consists of cartilage that covers and protects the ends of the bones in a joint.  The cartilage has no nerves; when it touches the cartilage of another bone, the dog feels no pain.

However, arthritis causes the cartilage to wear away.  This exposes the bone, which has many nerves.  So when two bones touch each other, your dog feels pain.  This pain can greatly affect your dog’s quality of life.

When bones continually rub against each other, they will eventually change shape.  The bone reshaping can make it difficult – or sometimes impossible – for your dog to walk or move naturally.  Arthritis can be managed much more successfully when it is diagnosed and treated early in the process.

Signs of Canine Arthritis

– Sluggishness
– Tiredness
– Low Activity
– Reluctance to walking, running, climbing stairs, jumping, or playing
– Lagging behind on walks
– Reluctance to extend rear legs
– Soreness
– Aggressive or withdrawn behavior
– Other personality or behavioral changes.


Are you concerned that your pet might have arthritis?  Take a minute and ask yourself the following questions:

The Arthritis Checklist

1.  Does your dog hesitate before jumping onto the bed or couch, or have difficulty getting in or out of the car?
2.  Does your dog seem to be lagging behind during walks? 
3.  Does your dog hesitate to go up and down stairs?
4.  Does your dog sometimes seem stiff or shaky when rising or walking?
5.  Does your dog show signs of discomfort?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s time to make an appointment and have an examination performed on your dog.  In addition to an exam, the doctor may consider taking a X-ray of the specified joint to determine the severity of the arthritis.


My dog has arthritis.  What are my options?

There are a few things you can do at home to help alleviate the pain of arthritis, such as low-impact exercise, decreasing the amount of food and treats given in hopes of dropping a few pounds, and using portable ramps for getting in and out of cars or onto the bed.

The introduction of pain relievers (Tramadol) and anti-inflammatory drugs (Rimadyl, Deramaxx) are also an option.  In addition to oral medications, the injectable drug Adequan has been shown to prevent the further deterioration of cartilage in joints.  And it’s never too early to think about supplements: Glucosamine and Chondroitin can be found in several forms including pills, treats and chews.   As always, see your vet before starting any medication regimen, as some of the medications listed require regular bloodwork.

If you are concerned that your dog may be experiencing symptoms of arthritis, please call to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians.  The sooner we can treat the problem, the more comfortable your dog will be.

And to our feline patients, we haven’t forgot about you!  Arthritis can affect our feline friends as well.  Is your cat a bit older?  Maybe you’ve noticed him having difficulty getting in and out of the litter box (or even having accidents in the house) or hopping onto his favorite spot?  If so, we want to see them, too!

A clear sign your cat has arthritis.


To Schedule an Appointment, Please call:
Northstar Animal Care  (614) 488-4121
Upper Arlington Veterinary Hospital  (614) 481-8014

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