Degenerative diseases

Osteoarthritis in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. September 14, 2016
Osteoarthritis in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment

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By assuming the great responsibility of taking in a dog at home, you'll feel the benefits deriving from the very strong emotional bond that develops between owner and pet. Throughout your dog's life, you'll be able to see it go through a host of physiological changes as it grows older. One of your pet's anatomical structures that can suffer most from the passing of years is the musculoskeletal system.

This AnimalWised article will explain the symptoms and treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs - the joint disease most commonly suffered by older pets.


  1. What is canine osteoarthritis?
  2. What causes canine osteoarthritis?
  3. Symptoms of canine osteoarthritis
  4. How is canine osteoarthritis treated?

What is canine osteoarthritis?

Canine osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease in dogs, and it mainly affects middle-aged and elderly dogs. Furthermore, it's estimated that 1 in 5 dogs suffer from this disease, an average that goes up to around 45% in dogs of larger breeds.

As in humans, this is a complex and progressive disease that produces a degeneration of articular cartilage,which is essential for preventing friction between the ends of bones that meet at the joint. Moreover, osteoarthritis also causes the formation of new bone tissue at the edges of joints, which can cause severe pain.

The most commonly affected joints are the following:

  • Elbows
  • Carpus (wrists)
  • Knees
  • Spine
  • Hip
Osteoarthritis in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment - What is canine osteoarthritis?

What causes canine osteoarthritis?

Generally, osteoarthritis occurs as a result of a secondary cause such as trauma, swelling, obesity or excessive intense physical exercise. However, some breeds such as German shepherds or Labrador retrievers have a genetic predisposition.

Osteoarthritis in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment - What causes canine osteoarthritis?

Symptoms of canine osteoarthritis

There are various symptoms of canine osteoarthritis, and your pet may display one or another depending on the severity of the disease, which ranges from mild to severe. The following symbols and signs may all suggest osteoarthritis:

  • Lethargy
  • Stiffness
  • Growling and whining
  • Hiding
  • Avoiding movement
  • Aggressiveness if someone goes to touch the affected area
  • Lameness
  • Lameness after exercise
  • Difficulty in standing up
  • Difficulty in moving
  • Loss of appetite

If you note any of these symptoms in your dog, take it straight to the vet so that they can assess the situation and decide upon the best course of treatment. The doctor will perform an exhaustive physical examination of the dog to confirm the diagnosis of osteoarthritis, and they may also make a diagnosis through the use of X-Rays.

Osteoarthritis in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment - Symptoms of canine osteoarthritis

How is canine osteoarthritis treated?

The objective of treating canine osteoarthritis should be to relieve pain and improve the mobility and quality of life of your pet, whilst preventing the future degeneration of cartilage. For this, treatment also includes hygiene-dietary measures in addition to the use of drugs.

The vet is the only person who can determine the type of treatment which should be followed, but complete treatment of osteoarthritis usually takes place in the following way:

  • Loss of body weight if necessary.
  • Adaptation of physical exercise to low impact exercise, taking into account the dog's state of inflammation.
  • Surgery is not the first choice for treatment, but it may be required if the dog needs a manipulation of the joint.
Osteoarthritis in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment - How is canine osteoarthritis treated?
Osteoarthritis in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment -

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Osteoarthritis in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Degenerative diseases category.

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Osteoarthritis in Dogs - Symptoms and Treatment