Arthritis Symptoms in Dogs


arthritis symptoms in dogs

Don’t mistake signs of arthritis in dogs for old age. What many pet guardians see as normal signs of aging, may actually be a dog in pain from the effects of arthritis.

Dogs slowing down, having difficulty getting in and out of their bed, and a “seeming” lost of interest in going for walks may be caused by many things, and arthritis is one of those “things.”

What is arthritis?

Arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease, is wear and tear on joints. Because dogs can be pretty good at hiding pain, you may not realise the extent of your dog’s discomfort until his condition has arthritis symptoms in dogsbecome quite advanced. 


  • Stiffness when getting up in the morning or after a nap
  • Difficulty lying down
  • Reluctance to move around as much as he used to
  • Stopped jumping onto the couch
  • Prefers shorter walks
  • Not running around with his mates at the dog park
  • Overweight dog having trouble walking – it may be more than just his weight
  • Trouble/avoiding climbing stairs
  • Limping
  • Uncomfortable in certain positions

If you have answered yes to one, a few, or all, then there’s a good chance your dog has arthritis

Since these changes typically happen very gradually, it’s important to pay close attention to your dog’s behaviour, and even subtle changes should signal a vet visit. Catching the first signs of any condition could mean a much better prognosis.

Does your dog have arthritis? Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? Click To Tweet

Are some breeds more likely to get arthritis than others?

While some large breeds are susceptible to developing arthritis, the truth is any dog, any size, any breed can develop it.

Can arthritis be prevented?

Because arthritis can develop as a result of an injury, treating that injury and making sure it heals properly, can help. Hip dysplasia is another cause, but being genetic, you can’t prevent arthritis from developing. However, knowing whether or not your dog has it means you can avoid certain activities that can make the problem worse (playing frisbee for example), while focusing on gentler forms of exercise such as swimming. Therapies like aquatherapy and acupuncture, as well as supplements such as Glucosamine/Chondroitin and New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels can lessen the effects. Speak to your vet about which ones he recommends. 

Mobility aids

A dog ramp can help him get in and out of the car or boat, and on and off the bed. One of the things to keep in mind when looking is the steepness of the incline. Too steep may be difficult for your dog to use, so go for the gradual incline.

Your dog may not be able to go for long walks like he used to, but that doesn’t mean he has to be stuck indoors. I recommend you consider a pet stroller, and I can tell you from experience how life changing it can be. Take the stroller with you when you walk your dog, and when he’s done, let him ride the rest of the way. It will prevent him from getting bored or depressed, you can still get your exercise if you want, and he gets to see his friends like he used to.   

Pet stairs are a great help for dogs getting on and off the couch. Whether or not yours could benefit would depend on the height of each step, and the severity of your dog’s condition. 

A sling gives extra support and can help your dog walk easier, while taking some of the pressure off his painful joints. To help my dog after spinal surgery, I used a sling to hold up his back end while on walks until he regained the use of his legs. Speak to your vet and see if he thinks this would benefit your dog. 

Arthritis symptoms in dogs – conclusion 

No matter what issue or condition we’re talking about, maintaining your dog’s health through proper nutrition, physical exercise and mental stimulation, will go a long way to increasing his chances of coping with whatever challenges he may face.

If your dog is showing any of the signs mentioned, it is possible they are symptoms of arthritis so please make a vet appointment as soon as possible. The quicker you do, the quicker his pain will be managed.  


Does your dog suffer from arthritis? What symptoms were you seeing? Did you assume it was a natural part of aging or arthritis? What treatment is your dog undergoing, and what changes have you seen since starting? Sharing helps others so please leave a comment below, or on my Facebook page.

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, a new Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you. 

Arthritis Symptoms in Dogs

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8 thoughts on “Arthritis Symptoms in Dogs

  1. Hey, I like your post a lot and was touched that you care about it and wrote it all down.
    We had a couple of dogs at home and unfortunately realised it too late.
    I think it is great, that you are trying to inform about this topic!
    Keep going!

    1. Hi David, Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It can be difficult determining whether or not your dog is starting to develop arthritis. After all, we expect them to slow down as they age. It doesn’t help that they can be quite good at hiding pain, so we can only do the best we can do.

  2. Hello,
    My sister has a small poodle that is way past her age span. So she has a hearing problem, and may get more vulnerable to health complication. However, according to the doc she is pretty healthy dog. Only thing I also noticed is that she is not as active as she was before and I was wondering if it was just her old age or arthritis. Are there any remedies or ways to improve and heal arthritis for dogs? Thank you.

    1. Hi Joon, I appreciate your comment. I’ve known a few small poodles who have lived very long lives, without too many issues. Really great to hear she’s healthy for her age. Your sister is obviously doing a great job. Slowing down doesn’t have to mean arthritis, but of course there are some signs to look out for that may help her determine if it is arthritis. Is she particularly stiff after a nap? Has she stopped jumping up onto furniture (if she ever did!), is it harder for her to walk/does she prefer short walks… Your sister’s vet could determine whether or not it’s arthritis by examining her dog, watching her walk, even x rays. I’m actually going to be starting an article on remedies/supplements for arthritis, so stay tuned for that. Your sister’s vet could prescribe a pain killer to make her dog more comfortable, and there are lots of joint supplements on the market – those that contain green lipped mussels are recommended by my vet, Glucosamine is another popular supplement – people love them, not all vets know much about it. I hope this helped!!

  3. Interesting… Of course, prevention is better than cure. But I just want to ask, is it recommended to give anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medicines for dogs in arthritis? Just like in humans?

    1. Hi Glen, thanks for your comment. As a matter of fact, I will be writing an article, or articles, about remedies and treatment options for arthritis. Anti-inflammatories and pain medications are frequently prescribed by vets, to treat a host of conditions in dogs. The question becomes – how long to keep them on these drugs? It’s impossible to answer that, as every dog’s medical needs are different, which is why it’s important to see your vet as soon as possible. There are lots of supplements and more natural products on the market, that have been known to help – joint supplements, particularly those containing green lipped mussels, Glucosamine… For people who prefer a more homeopathic approach, there are holistic vets who can help.

  4. Hey my cousin’s dog is getting old. I think I’ll pass this on to him. Really useful information you’ve got there 🙂

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