7 Common Signs of Arthritis in Dogs

Let’s take a deeper look at each of the top ten signs of arthritis in dogs so that you can be your dog’s early detection system.

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Sorry to hear that your senior dog is not eating well and having some trouble with his back legs. Sometimes dogs do react to changes in the household by not eating well for a few days, but it sounds like there could be more than that going on. I would recommend making an appointment with your vet so he or she can examine your dog and get to the bottom of the problem. Best of luck to you and your pup! ❤

Your dog may seem to experience pain or stiffness when getting up or down that seems to resolve after they have walked a bit and “warmed up.”

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There’s no cure for arthritis, but you can improve your dog’s quality of life by managing the pain with new generation medications such as monoclonal antibody injections, anti-inflammatories, painkillers and alternative therapies, such as hydrotherapy, laser therapy, massage and acupuncture. These can help relieve stiffness and improve mobility to support the surrounding muscles. In some cases, surgery (including joint replacement surgeries) can help but it’s unlikely to restore perfect joints for life. New stem cell therapy is also becoming more readily available, with seemingly promising results.

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What causes arthritis in dogs?

Signs of arthritis in dogs are often subtle and can even start in younger dogs. Initially, you may only notice that your dog is reluctant to get out of bed in the morning or go for long walks. An arthritic dog may have difficulty navigating stairs and jumping onto furniture. Maybe your Labrador Retriever is avoiding going for swims.

We hear the word “arthritis” all the time, whether relating to humans or our pets. But what does the word really mean? The term encompasses pain, inflammation, and stiffness of the joints.

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Even with treatment, arthritis is a progressive disease. It will eventually get worse and can progress to advanced or end-stage arthritis.

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Muscle atrophy in hips and back legs

Depending on the joints that are affected, you may see your pet limping or favoring one or more legs over the others. If the spine is affected, your pet may even experience lameness in one or both hind legs.

Some dogs will vocalize due to arthritis pain. I say some because not all dogs will, and I’ve heard a lot of people insist that their dog is not painful because he or she is not whining or crying. This is not true! I often tell these clients that I broke my arm years ago. I didn’t cry all day every day while it healed, but it sure hurt! A lack of vocalization does not mean a lack of pain.

As arthritis progresses, your dog may be very stiff throughout the day, take short, choppy steps, and struggle to get up and down. End-stage arthritis can lead to the inability to stand at all.

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Arthritis limits the range of motion of affected joints. Because we often see arthritis in older dogs’ hips, knees, elbows, and shoulders, this reduced range of motion can change the way they walk and run. Arthritis in dogs may manifest as a short, choppy gait, a slower walk, and a smaller stride when running.

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Stiffness after resting

If he or she is developing arthritis, your dog may take stairs more slowly/delicately, or avoid them altogether.


For additional information about canine arthritis, check out Dr. Capon’s work at Canine Arthritis Management .

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If you notice any of the following 7 signs and suspect that your dog may suffer from arthritis, make an appointment with your vet to create a care plan.

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Reluctance to Move

Other symptoms of arthritis in dogs include:

My dog is 19 years old and has arthritis his hind legs are swollen is there something I can give him for pain and swelling

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