Arthritis in Dogs

Many canine senior citizens become stiff and sore in their joints as they age. However, there is much you can do to slow the development of arthritis and to manage the symptoms if they occur. Arthritis is inflammation of the joint, there are many causes of arthritis in dogs, from infections to immune mediated diseases. However the type of arthritis most people think of when they hear the term is the age related disease that causes stiff sore joints in canine senior citizens.



 Arthritis starts when the joint cartilage that covers the ends of the bones deteriorates. Over time, this cartilage is worn down to expose the bone beneath. As the disease progresses, new bone is laid down in and around the joints, and the joint fluid becomes thin and less cushioning. The result is pain and difficulty in moving around.

Why does the cartilage deteriorate in the first place? There are several causes:

  • Congenital diseases of the joints such as hip or elbow dysplasia.
  • Joint or ligament injury that makes the joint move in an abnormal way.
  • Age and obesity. Older dogs are more prone to joint degeneration, and if your canine best friend is carrying excess weight, it will accelerate this process.


If your dog starts to develop arthritis, the first thing you are likely to notice is that he is limping. He will try and avoid moving the sore joint. The limp is often worse when he first gets up in the morning, or when the weather is particularly cold.

As the disease progresses, he will be less likely to enjoy his usual activities. He won’t jump up on the couch for a cuddle or chase his ball, and he may be unwilling to walk too far. There can also be wasting of the muscles on the affected leg, so it will look thinner than the corresponding one on the other side. Some dogs even bite at their sore joint to get relief, and this can be mistaken for a skin problem.