How to Help a Dog With Arthritis

Canine osteoarthritis, more commonly known as arthritis, is a degenerative joint condition that affects dogs. Just like humans and their joints can suffer from arthritis, dogs, too, can feel pain due to stiff, immobile joints.

There is no cure for your dog’s arthritis, but there are ways to help prevent its onset and relieve its symptoms. Learning more about how to treat your dog and help them feel better can make a huge difference in how much canine osteoarthritis affects their life. Let’s learn how to make your dog as comfortable as possible despite their condition.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

What Happens When Your Dog Suffers From Arthritis

Before you learn more about how to help your dog with arthritis, it is important to know what symptoms they are likely to exhibit. Knowing the symptoms will help you get a better idea of exactly what is hurting your dog most so you can target and treat these issues.


After all, senior pet care can get expensive. You want to make sure that you are spending money on relieving the right symptoms, not just guessing what might help.


Common symptoms of arthritis in dogs include:


  • Difficulty to stand up when lying down
  • Refusing to stand up when lying down
  • Difficulty jumping onto couches or beds
  • Difficulty going up or down stairs
  • Muscles on limbs getting smaller
  • Stance getting more narrow
  • Legs not moving as far when walking or running

Tip #1: Change and supplement their diet.

One of the most important things for dogs with arthritis is diet and supplement maintenance. Dogs with this condition can benefit from better weight management, as extra weight creates extra joint strain. Additionally, exercising is often incredibly hard to get started with, so it’s best to start with changing up their diet.


Dogs with arthritis can also benefit from foods with concentrated sources of nutrition like this one from Timberwolf Organics. These foods provide all the sustenance needed with fewer calories, and this can help them keep up muscle strength without gaining weight.


If that isn’t the right fit, Raised Right human-grade pet food with inflammation-reducing ingredients is one common recommendation among veterinarians. There are also whole food options, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and apples, that can ease arthritis pain when fed regularly to your pet.


No matter what food you choose, it’s key that the food meets all nutritional needs with high levels of anti-inflammatories and omega fatty acids. Additionally, some veterinarians recommend glucosamine or chondroitin supplements to help build up healthy cartilage.


Make sure to consult with your vet about any diet and supplement changes. They can provide the best personalized feedback on whether or not changes are the right choice for your pet.

Tip #2: Choose the proper exercise.

Even when traveling, it’s a great idea to keep your pet’s health and fitness in mind to relieve their arthritis as much as possible. Therapy exercises and treatments, such as swimming, can be very beneficial to restore joint mobility and keep muscles strong.


Moderate exercise also helps keep off some extra weight, which you have already learned can be helpful to relieve arthritis pain.


Short exercise should be done in moderation. Start with short walks a few times a day, and increase the length of the walks over time. Try to go up and down hills to rebuild stability. Make sure to avoid high-impact activities, such as jumping, as they can worsen arthritis symptoms.

Tip #3: Consider medication.

Talk with your veterinarian about whether or not prescription medication might help relieve some of their arthritis pain. Usually, vets will perform a blood test to make this call.


One of the most common medications used for arthritis pain is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. Also known as NSAIDs, these medicines can help improve pain caused by arthritis. Be sure to only give your dog vet-approved NSAIDs; do not use human medication guidelines for your pets.


Tip #4: Keep Your Dog Warm

Keeping warm is a good way to prevent your dog from suffering pain from arthritis. Heat keeps the blood moving around their body and will bring comfort to them. 


Cold is one of the worst things for arthritic dogs, so avoid letting them get cold at night, and make sure they’re kept warm in the kennel.


A good wood-burning stove is perfect for dogs suffering from arthritis and other age-related ailments. They heat a home far better than most electric heaters, and dogs can regulate the heat by lying nearer or further depending on their needs.

Tip #5: Rearrange Your Home

Finally, you may want to consider making changes at home that will make your pet’s daily life more comfortable. Some things in the house might be dangerous for a pet with arthritis or can simply cause unnecessary pain. Here’s what to switch up at home.

Add Non-Slip Rugs

Dogs with arthritis are unstable and have joint pain. This can make walking on hardwood floors or tile difficult, painful, and dangerous. Adding non-slip rugs, mats, or carpets into areas where it’s hard for them to walk will considerably improve their lives. Additionally, put rugs at the base of stairs and beds so any landing impact is lessened when moving up and down.

Get a Better Dog Bed

Your dog might love their current bed, but it’s important to consider if you could get them a bed which better supports their body. Dog beds that are low to the ground and have dense, orthopedic support will be better for their joints. Arthritis-friendly beds make it easier for dogs to get up after sleeping, and also keep their joints from sinking into painful positions.

Written by Lisa Smith


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