Understanding Dog Arthritis – Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, Q&A

You’re here because your dog hasn’t been acting quite like himself lately.

Maybe he hasn’t been playing as enthusiastically as normal. Or when he sits up, he does so much more slowly than you’re used to. And he’s spending so much time sleeping or lying down.

You don’t know exactly what’s going on. But whatever it is, you know something’s off.

Your dog may be showing signs of arthritis, a common health condition in dogs. 

So we’re going to provide a thorough explanation about what dog arthritis is, as well as share some preventative and treatment measures.

And we won’t stop there. We’ll also include details on the three best supplements to help your dog manage arthritis. That way, he can get back up to his usual shenanigans.

We’re about to unleash some pretty important information, so get ready!

What Exactly is Dog Arthritis?

Dog arthritis (also known as osteoarthritis) is a degenerative joint condition that affects dogs of all ages, from young dogs to more senior ones. 

Arthritis is caused by the wearing away of cartilage in your dog’s joints. This cartilage exists to cushion your dog’s bones.

But when your dog’s cartilage is damaged, his joints become inflamed. The cushioning that cartilage provides is no longer present, which can lead to your dog’s bones rubbing against one another when he moves.

Gross. And painful.

By the time this happens, your dog has probably started showing dog arthritis signs, such as limping or being reluctant to move around.

Some breeds, particularly larger ones, are more likely to develop arthritis than others. Check out the list below for some of these breeds:

  • Labradors
  • German shepherds
  • Rottweilers
  • Malamutes
  • Golden retrievers

So now that you know what arthritis is, let’s share a conversation about the specific signs and symptoms of dog arthritis to watch out for.

Dog Arthritis Symptoms & Signs

dog arthritis symptoms

If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably become acquainted with at least a few dog arthritis symptoms.

Otherwise, why would you be here?

We’ve discussed a few dog arthritis signs in passing before. You can find a more comprehensive list below:

  • Slow to get up, especially after rest
  • Limping
  • Stiff or swollen joints
  • Lethargy
  • Reluctance to play or be as active as normal

If you notice any of these symptoms and suspect your dog may be suffering from arthritis, you should book an appointment with your vet. She can conduct a thorough exam to determine and discuss treatment steps with you.

Your vet may feel your dog’s joints to check for a pain response or to see if your dog’s joint capsule has thickened. She may also order an X-Ray or MRI.

Benefits of Dog Arthritis Supplements

Dog supplements have gained popularity in recent years, so you may be wondering if you can use them to help manage your dog’s arthritis.

The answer is a resounding yes.

Dog supplements for arthritis contain active ingredients that promote overall joint health, as well as specifically target your dog’s cartilage.

For example, ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin work together to encourage cartilage health, while MSM reduces pain and inflammation in your dog’s joints.

The chart below outlines these benefits and shows the “big four” active ingredients that will be included in the best supplements for dogs with arthritis.

Active IngredientBenefit
Glucosamine
  • Repairs cartilage
Chondroitin
  • Prevents cartilage deterioration
MSM
  • Antioxidant
  • Manages pain
  • Reduces inflammation
Hyaluronic acid
  • Lubricates joints

When you’re choosing a supplement, read the supplement label and choose the one that has as many active ingredients and as little filler as possible. This ensures you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

It also ensures you’re not just feeding your dog a glorified (and pricey) treat! While eating a filler-full supplement may make your dog happy for a moment, you’re not doing him or his joints any favours in the long run.

Preventative Measures

dog arthritis diet

While arthritis isn’t totally preventable, many of the same things you do to maintain your dog’s health can also help prevent arthritis. We’ll discuss some of these actions below.

Healthy Diet

Hopefully, you’re already feeding your dog a healthy diet.

But if not, it’s time to get started. A balanced and nutritional diet goes a long way in preventing signs of arthritis in dogs.

This is because eating all the right foods can help keep your dog at a healthy weight. We’ll discuss why this is so important soon.

Additionally, certain foods can help reduce inflammation in your dog’s body:

  1. Blueberries
  2. Kale
  3. Ginger
  4. Spinach

The table below shows some of the other foods that may help encourage healthy joints. Notice that each one of them has anti-inflammatory benefits!

FoodBenefit
Sweet potatoes
  • Fights inflammation
  • Builds muscle
Turmeric
  • Anti-inflammatory
Celery
  • Low calorie (helps manage weight)
  • Anti-inflammatory
Ginger
  • Anti-inflammatory
Fish
  • Contains omega-3’s, which are great for joint health
  • Anti-inflammatory

Unfortunately, dog kibble often contains ingredients, like wheat, that are more likely to lead to inflammation in your dog’s body.

So some pet parents may be interested in considering a raw food diet that includes many of the anti-inflammatory foods listed above.

If you decide to go this route, be sure to consult with your vet first. Dogs need certain vitamins and minerals, as well as the right ratio of vegetables to protein, to be healthy. You want to make sure you’re providing that in his meals!

Weight Management

One of the best things you can do to prevent arthritis is to keep your dog at a healthy weight.

And why is that?

Well, every pound of extra weight that your dog has to lug around places more strain on his joints.

So if you can reduce his weight, you also reduce the likelihood that he’ll experience the painful symptoms of dog arthritis.

Since your dog will eat anything you feed him, it’s up to you to ensure he’s not overeating.

Measure out his daily food intake and avoid feeding him too many treats.

Additionally, regular exercise can help manage your dog’s weight while also strengthening his tendons, muscles, and joints.

So next time you’re feeling bored around the house, take your dog for a walk or go play catch. Not only are you having fun while bonding, but you’re also reducing the likelihood of dog arthritis!

It’s a win-win all around.

Regular Check-Ups

dog arthritis treatment

Your dog probably looks like you just kicked him in the gut every time you take him to the vet, which makes you feel like an awful pet parent.

But getting a regular check-up is another great way to reduce the chances your dog will develop dog arthritis… even if he feels betrayed.

This is because your veterinarian can let you know if your dog is overweight. You may think your chubby pup is endearing, but your vet will have no problem telling it to you straight.

At your dog’s check-up, you can work with your vet to develop a weight-reduction plan if necessary.

And if your dog has already started to develop dog arthritis signs, your vet may be able to catch some of the early symptoms.

You should aim to bring your dog to the vet for a check-up once per year. The bonus of doing so is that you also get to keep your dog up-to-date on all his vaccinations!

Joint Supplements

We mentioned supplements a bit earlier but we’re going to dive into some more detail here.

Because feeding your dog a joint supplement is another great way to prevent dog arthritis.

The active ingredients of glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM help promote joint health and reduce the likelihood your dog will suffer from cartilage deterioration.

In particular, there are two types of glucosamine you should look for when choosing arthritis supplements for dogs:

  1. Glucosamine hydrochloride
  2. Glucosamine sulphate

Glucosamine hydrochloride is a highly bioavailable form of glucosamine, meaning your dog can make use of this active ingredient.

And glucosamine sulphate helps with collagen production, which is a vital ingredient of cartilage.

TRI-ACTA for pets is a great option for a preventative supplement. It contains all the active ingredients we just discussed, plus it comes in powdered form so it’s easy to feed to your dog!

TRI-ACTA

Integricare TRI-ACTA for Pets

Hazard Mitigation

Do you know what’s worse than adding insult to injury?

Adding injury to injury.

Unfortunately, arthritis can occur because your dog has suffered an injury or has another health condition, such as hip dysplasia.

So it makes sense that doing some hazard mitigation can help reduce the likelihood that your dog will suffer from an acute injury that could lead to arthritis down the line.

When you’re playing with your dog, always make sure that he has plenty of room to move around without running into furniture.

Similarly, pay attention to your surroundings when you’re out and about with your dog. If you’re playing catch at a field, make sure there aren’t any hidden holes or dips in the grass.

A few precautions taken now pay dividends for your dog’s future joint health.

Treatments for Dog Arthritis

Preventative measures are great and all, unless your dog already has arthritis. In that case, you need to find out how to manage his symptoms so that he can continue living his best life. Keep reading to learn about treatment for arthritis in dogs.

Pain Medication

You’ve probably taken medicine for aches and pains before.

And so can your dog. Certain pain medications, such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), can help treat the pain and inflammation your dog experiences from arthritis.

Some of the NSAIDs that can help manage dog arthritis are listed below:

  1. Carprofen
  2. Deracoxib
  3. Meloxicam

Additionally, your vet may prescribe other pain medicines, like amantadine or tramadol, to help manage your dog’s arthritis symptoms.

But these medicines must be prescribed by a vet. You should never, ever feed your dog an over-the-counter medication made for humans.

This is because the dosages found in pain medicines that are made for humans, like aspirin, can be toxic for your pup.

And the last thing you want is to make things any harder on your pup when he’s already going through some tough times dealing with arthritis!

Joint Supplements

We’ve mentioned dog supplements for arthritis a couple of times now.

But bear with us. We promise it’s for a good reason!

Joint supplements really do go a long way in helping manage dog arthritis. That’s because the active ingredients found in these supplements not only minimize pain but also manage the underlying issue.

What’s that underlying issue, you ask?

Cartilage deterioration. Glucosamine and chondroitin can assist with preventing deterioration from happening in the first place, as well as fixing it once it does.

Earlier, we mentioned TRI-ACTA for pets as a great option for preventing dog arthritis.

But if your dog currently has arthritis, you’ll want to take a look at our maximum strength supplement, TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets.

The key difference between these two supplements is the addition of hyaluronic acid, which helps lubricate your dog’s poor arthritic joints.

Weight Loss

dog arthritis weight loss

If you’ve let your dog get a bit husky, don’t “terrier” yourself about it. Almost 60% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight.

But also don’t ignore the issue.

You’ll want to help your dog lose weight to manage arthritis.

To do so, feed your dog a diet containing lean proteins, like turkey or chicken, as opposed to calorie-rich foods, such as fish. This can help reduce your dog’s overall calorie intake.

Additionally, you should measure out a specific amount of food at every mealtime, rather than trying to eyeball it.

Work with your vet to put together a comprehensive weight loss plan for your dog. You want to avoid making your dog lose weight too quickly, which can be both unhealthy and unsustainable.

Environmental Modifications

If your dog is suffering from arthritis, you can make certain environmental modifications to make moving around a bit easier on his body.

And that’s important since moving around with arthritis can cause your dog to feel pain!

Take a look around your home and pay special attention to where your dog spends the most time, including how he gets from place to place.

You want to reduce the need for your dog to jump or walk up or down the stairs. This may mean installing a ramp so that he can still access that sofa he loves to take naps on.

Or if you have wood floors, installing a non-skin surface in hallways or places your dog walks around a lot can reduce the likelihood that your dog will slip and fall.

Additionally, raising your dog’s food bowl off the ground can minimize how much he has to bend down to eat.

You know your home the best. Take some time to brainstorm the various ways you can help make your house more comfortable for a pup with arthritis.

Exercise

Last but not least on our list of arthritis in dog treatment measures is exercise.

While it may sound counterintuitive, exercise can help manage the symptoms of dog arthritis.

And we know that sounds weird, since moving around causes your dog pain.

But gentle exercises like short walks can help strengthen your dog’s joints, tendons, ligaments and bones. All of that is great for taking stress off of your dog’s joints.

Before you start any exercise, be sure to give your dog a chance to warm up. The last thing you want is to overload your dog’s body with too much exercise all at once.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, but always pay attention to how your dog is responding. Some days may be better for your dog than others.

If he’s showing any signs of pain, take a break and try again tomorrow. Similarly, if you had a particularly long walk one day, take it easy the next.

3 Best Supplements for Dogs with Arthritis

Now that you know how important a good joint supplement is, let’s take a look at the best supplements for dog arthritis. 

1. Integricare TRI-ACTA H.A. for Pets

Pet TRI-ACTA H.A.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t emphasize that TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets is just about the best dog arthritis supplement on the market.

This supplement is the maximum-strength formula of our sister product, TRI-ACTA for pets, which is a great joint supplement option if you’re looking for something to help prevent arthritis from forming in the first place.

TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets contains all the key active ingredients we discussed earlier:

  • Glucosamine
  • Chondroitin
  • MSM
  • Hyaluronic acid

What else does it contain?

In terms of quality, efficacy, and therapeutic value, TRI-ACTA H.A. is in a class of its own.

Price $27.99 to $79.99 as of August 2021

2. Nutramax Cosequin Maximum Strength Plus MSM Chewable Tablets Joint Supplement for Dogs

Nutramax Cosequin

Source

Another great arthritis dog supplement option? Nutramax Cosequin Maximum Strength Plus MSM Chewable Tablets Joint Supplement for Dogs.

This affordable supplement comes in tablet form, making it a great option if your dog loves to eat treats.

And it contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, which are those active ingredients we discussed before that will help promote your dog’s joint health.

The only thing it’s missing is hyaluronic acid, a key ingredient of synovial fluid that aids in joint lubrication.

Price $17.99 to $156.72 as of August 2021

3. Infinite All-Natural Hip & Joint Powder Dog Supplement

infinite all natural

Source

Third on our line-up is Infinite All-Natural Hip & Joint Powder Dog Supplement.

This supplement comes in a powdered formula, which means it’s super easy to add to your dog’s food (just like TRI-ACTA H.A.!).

It also contains the key ingredients that aid in your dog’s joint health, like glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and even turmeric.

Plus, the supplement has some pretty rave reviews.

The downside? Like the Nutramax Cosequin supplement we just discussed, this joint supplement is also missing the key ingredient of hyaluronic acid.

Price $24.16 as of August 2021

Q&A for Arthritis in Dogs

What can I give my dog for arthritis pain over the counter?

Never feed your dog any over-the-counter medicine that has not been prescribed to him by a vet.  Doing so can be incredibly toxic to your dog, as a dosage that may be helpful for humans can be toxic for dogs. Always speak with your vet before feeding your dog any new medications.

What can I give my dog for arthritis pain?

You have several options to help manage your dog’s arthritis pain. Your vet may prescribe an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) if your dog is experiencing lots of pain from his arthritis.

And as we mentioned above, never give your dog over-the-counter NSAIDs made for humans, which can be toxic to your dog.

Another great option is feeding your dog a joint supplement that contains active ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid. In particular, MSM can help manage the pain and inflammation that dog arthritis causes.

Can you cure arthritis in dogs?

Unfortunately, there is not a cure for dog arthritis. But with the right care, your dog can still live a happy, healthy life with this health condition.

Be sure to do what you can to manage dog arthritis symptoms, from feeding your pup a joint supplement to making sure they’re getting the right amount of gentle exercise. Your dog will thank you!

Conclusion

dog arthritis q&a

Dog arthritis isn’t only hard on your pup. This health condition can be really tough on pet owners too.

No one wants to see their furry friend in pain.

But fortunately, there are certain steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of dog arthritis, from feeding your dog a healthy diet to making sure they’re getting an annual check-up at the vet.

And if your dog already has arthritis, you can manage his symptoms by using medicine prescribed by your dog’s vet or feeding him a dog arthritis supplement like TRI-ACTA H.A. 

If your dog is in the market for a joint supplement, you can find out where to buy our supplements here.

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