Arthritis is the inflammation of joints which can be caused by a wide variety of conditions such as trauma, infections, metabolic diseases or immune -mediated disease [1]. Inside a dog’s joints, the adjoining bones are normally covered with a layer of smooth cartilage, lubricated with a joint fluid (synovial fluid) that allows the two surfaces to glide freely over each other, minimalizing any friction. Due to the inflammation associated with arthritis, the cartilage between the joints changes or begins to progressively become damaged or degenerate[2].

The bone surfaces may begin to rub together, causing pain, discomfort and increased inflammation. This increased friction of the bones can may also cause new bone to grow around the joints, making the dog’s movement stiffer, leading to another condition known as degenerative joint disease [2]. Arthritis is a progressive disease that worsens over time if left untreated. Types of Arthritis include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD) and knee dysplasia.


Signs and symptoms of arthritis may include:

  1. Swollen joints
  2. Excessive licking of joint area
  3. Slow to rise from its resting position
  4. Lameness
  5. Sounds of popping and cracking of joints when dog is moving
  6. Panting, whining, or whimpering
  7. Stiffness
  8. Muscle wasting
  9. Irritability
  10. Belly pain
  11. Difficulty or refusal to climb stairs or sofa


Your Veterinarian can perform a full physical examination (eg. motion test) and/or radiographs or the joints (x-rays) to determine whether your dog has arthritis. The Vet could also perform additional test such as:


  • Joint Fluid Analysis. This will help to give an idea as to the cause of the arthritis [1].
  • Thyroid Test. To determine the level of thyroid hormone being produced by the thyroid gland [1].
  • Antibody/Antigen tests. To determine whether your dog has been exposed to other diseases such lyme disease which can display similar signs and symptoms to arthritis.


Your Veterinarian will recommend a treatment protocol that is designed for your dog’s needs. Some treatments include:

  1. Prescribing pain medication to aid in decreasing pain and reducing inflammation
  2. “Cartilage protector drugs”. Example: polysulphated glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid and pentosan polysulphate [2]. They also reduce inflammation.
  3. Diet Management (in overweight dogs) [1]
  4. Nutraceutical supplements: Glucosamine and chondroitin containing supplements (Turmeric, bone meal, green lipped mussels)
  5. Surgery. (eg. Hip, elbow and knee dysplasia) [1]

Unfortunately, the cartilage in joints cannot be repaired completely, especially in cases where they are badly damaged. However, with the use of long-term pain medication and proper management to control further deterioration, your dog can live a good life [2].


It should be noted that not all forms of arthritis are preventable. Many forms of arthritis are genetic/inheritable. You can help to reduce your dog’s risk of developing arthritis as well as the severity of the disease if it already has it by:

  1. Exercise
    Ensuring that you dog has adequate exercise (speak to veterinarian about exercise to dog’s suffering from arthritis)
  2. Ideal Weight
    Know your dog’s weight range for its breed. Excess weight will worsen the symptoms of arthritis.
  3. Feed healthy Nutritious Foods
    Foods high in anti-inflammatory properties will work well for dogs that suffer from arthritis. They are also beneficial even if your dog is disease free.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils have potent anti-inflammatory properties which can help ease the pain of arthritis.
  • Green lipped mussels and bone meal contain glucosamine and chondroitin which help to repair joint cartilage and improve bone heath. Green lipped mussels contain furan fatty acids and lyprinol which exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory effects [4].
  • Beets contain a powerhouse of antioxidants such as vitamin A and C which help to reduce oxidative stress [4].

Arthritis can be a very debilitating disease in severe cases. Through proper dietary management and advice from your Veterinarian, you can help to reduce risks and/ or symptoms of the disease in your dog.


[1] Pet Health Network Contributors, “Arthtritis In Dogs,” 05 August 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 January 2019].

[2] T. K. Club, “Pet Health Information,” 2019. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 January 2019].

[3] B. C. F. Pets, “Arthritis in Dogs,” 24 04 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 15 January 2019].

[4] MOxxor, “4 Benefits Of Green Lipped Mussel In Arthritis,” 2019. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 16 January 2019].

[5] D. Cole, “9 Impressive Health Benefits of Beets,” 26 May 2017. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 16 January 2019].


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