Your dog is most likely a part of your family, so you need to ensure they are both happy and healthy. From training and feeding them quality food to vaccinating and exercising them, parenting your dog can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, your dog may develop certain conditions that affect their health and wellness even when giving them the proper care they need. 

An estimated 20 percent of middle-aged dogs and 90 percent of older dogs suffer from osteoarthritis. While it is common, most people do not fully understand the causes and signs of this condition. You need to consult with your veterinarian if you believe your dog has this painful, debilitating condition, but this guide will help you understand arthritis in a bit more detail.


Determining the exact cause of your dog's arthritis is difficult, since many factors are at play. However, if your dog has a bone, joint, or growth abnormality or recently suffered an injury, the joints may rub together. This results in the irritation and inflammation in the joints, or arthritis.

Certain dog breeds are predisposed to joint problems. Larger breeds or dogs that tend to carry excess weight develop arthritis because extra pressure and irritation is placed on the joints.

Breeds that are likely to develop arthritis include:

  • Great Danes
  • German shepherds
  • Labrador retrievers
  • St. Bernards
  • Sheep dogs
  • Mastiffs
  • Rottweilers
  • English bulldogs

Since these breeds are larger and more likely to carry excess weight, their joints are more stressed, making these dogs more susceptible to osteoarthritis.


Your dog will not be able to tell you they are experiencing pain and discomfort, but they will communicate with you in other ways.

One of the first signs you may notice if your dog has arthritis is that they limp when walking and running. This limping is most common when you dog first gets up from a sitting and resting position.

Your dog may also struggle to move. Certain tasks, which were once easy, will now be difficult. Your dog may not be able to walk up the stairs or get in and out of your car.

If your dog has arthritis, they may also spend more time sleeping and laying down. Of course, remember that some breeds are lazier than others. For example, basset hounds and English bulldogs spend more time sleeping and laying down than boxers and retrievers.

The irritation and pain of arthritis may also cause your dog to lick and chew at their joints. You may notice your dog is constantly licking and biting areas of their paws or legs. This is an attempt to deal with their discomfort.


If your dog displays one or more of the above signs, schedule a consultation with your veterinarian today. A physical exam will help determine the location and severity of the joint inflammation. Your dog may also need x-rays to determine the location of joint inflammation.

Your vet may prescribe steroids and NSAIDs to reduce your dog's inflammation and pain. Unfortunately, long-term use of these medications can have negative side effects. Continuous use can result in weight gain and gastrointestinal issues.

Glucosamine is a national supplement that has been effective for strengthening the joints and easing inflammation. Ask the vet about the correct dosage, which will be based on your dog's weight and the severity of their arthritis.

If your dog is overweight, consider putting them on a weight loss plan. A reduction of only a few pounds can decrease an enormous amount of stress and pressure on your dog's joints. Select a weight-control food for your dog and avoid giving them table scraps to help with weight loss.

Physical therapy and massage are also beneficial for easing your dog's pain and improving mobility.

Your dog is capable of living with arthritis, but the pain and immobility can decrease their quality of life. To learn more about diagnosing and treating arthritis in dogs, contact Stones River Veterinary Hospital today.