It's estimated many U.S. dogs one year or older have arthritis or joint issues. It is among the most common health conditions and can affect all dogs. It is prevalent among certain breeds as well as dogs that are older or obese. In this article, we explore the signs of joint pain in dogs and how you can help dogs with arthritis at home.
Signs of Arthritis in Dogs
Arthritis, osteoarthritis, and degenerative joint disease are different names for a medical condition that requires veterinary diagnosis and treatment.
The condition of arthritis is defined as the deterioration of the cartilage that cushions bones in joints. When the cartilage weakens or deteriorates, one bone in the joint rubs against the other, causing pain, which leads to immobility.
The joint's cushioning cartilage deteriorates with age, affecting older dogs. If the dog is overweight, the joint pain is usually worse because more weight puts more pressure on the joints.
Signs of dog arthritis or joint pain include:
- Trouble standing — Your dog may be slower when getting up from a sitting or reclined position.
- Difficulty jumping into a car — Dogs may be reluctant or need help getting in and out of the car.
- Look sore — Your dog's movements are not as fluid. He may appear stiff or sore and may begin limping.
- Reluctant to use stairs — With arthritis in the dog's back legs, a dog may be cautious or whine when he must go up or down stairs.
- Trouble squatting — Dogs may have trouble squatting to go to the bathroom and may have accidents in the home.
- Decrease in stamina — Your dog cannot play or walk at the same pace or for as long as he used to without tiring.
- Doesn't like being touched — Dogs with arthritis may react as if they are in pain when you pet them, especially on the hind legs.
- Behavioral changes — Dogs with chronic joint pain may become more irritable.
What can you give a dog when you suspect arthritis? Before trying home remedies or medicines for humans, consult your vet for a diagnosis.
Arthritis in Dogs
If you suspect arthritis, take your dog to your vet as soon as possible. Your vet will conduct a thorough examination, which may include palpating joints to check for pain, taking X-rays, listening for crepitus or the cracking of joints, observing your dog's gait, and looking for the presence of muscle atrophy.
Some large breed dogs are more likely to develop dog arthritis at a younger age:
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Golden Doodles
- Great Danes
If you have a large dog or a breed prone to hip and joint pain, ask your vet about preventive care that supports joint health for dogs.
How to Help a Dog with Arthritis at Home
If you notice the signs of arthritis or joint pain listed above, talk to your vet about how you can help your dog with arthritis. Additionally, your vet may prescribe or recommend over-the-counter medications for your dog's joint pain relief.
Whether it's prescription joint support for dogs or nonprescription NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), these pain relievers should only be used under your vet's supervision due to their short- and long-term side effects.
Never use human arthritis medicine to treat your dog's joint pain without checking with your vet first. What is safe for humans may not be safe for dogs.
Your vet may also suggest injections for your dog's arthritis pain relief. Be sure to discuss all the potential side effects of these injections with your vet so you can make an informed decision.
In addition to treatments recommended by your vet, there are several other natural remedies for arthritis and joint pain, such as:
- Moderate exercise — Short and slow walks around your neighborhood can help keep your dog moving. Be sure to avoid high-impact exercise.
- Keep nails clipped — Short nails help your dog gain traction on slippery surfaces. If your home has hardwood floors, you may want to consider nonskid area rugs to help your dog walk more easily.
- Feed specially formulated food for joint health — Foods that are rich in fatty acids and other key nutrients can help provide joint support for dogs.
- Consider supplements — Ask your vet about hip and joint supplements for dogs with beneficial ingredients, like green-lipped mussels, to help support your dog's joints and cartilage.
- Muscle massage — This can help stimulate blood flow to atrophied muscles. Consult a certified canine massage therapist.
- Hydrotherapy — Swimming or hydrotherapy provides low-impact exercise that helps keep your dog's muscles strong. Ask your vet to recommend a certified canine rehabilitation professional in your area.
- Orthopedic beds, ramps, and steps — Orthopedic beds can help dogs feel more comfortable while they are sleeping. Be sure to keep your dog's bed away from cold and damp drafts. Carpeted ramps or steps can help your dog get up and down furniture and in and out of the car with less pain.
- Hip braces or dog lift harnesses — Braces and lift harnesses provide support and stability for your dog, minimizing pressure on joints to make movement less painful.
- Elevated food bowls — It can be painful for dogs with arthritis to lower their body to food bowls. Elevated bowls reduce strain on your dog's back, neck, and front limbs. Also placing absorbent mats under food and water bowls can help avoid spills.
- Acupuncture — Talk to your vet about acupuncture to alleviate signs of arthritis.
- Help for anxious behaviors — Pain and lack of mobility may make your dog more anxious or nervous. Calming supplements with natural ingredients may help.
Hip & Joint Supplements for Dogs
Are you curious about how to help your dog naturally? Hip and joint supplements for dogs that contain natural, beneficial ingredients, like EverRoot hip and joint supplements, may ease your dog's joint stiffness from normal daily activities and exercise.
The best joint supplements for dogs contain ingredients such as salmon and cod liver fish oils, green-lipped mussels, and vitamin E that support hip and joint health.
Wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil and wild-caught Alaskan cod liver oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can help support your dog's joint health.
Green-lipped mussels are rich in glucosamine and chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, and other vitamins and minerals that can ease joint stiffness.
Vitamin E may stimulate growth of cartilage cells that provide the cushion in your dog's joints.
With a little proactive care, the proper nutrition, extra love, and a bit of patience, you can help ease your dog's joint stiffness so he can enjoy a happy and healthy life.Learn more about EverRoot hip and joint supplements for dogs.