Osteoarthritis in Dogs: What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Artrosis en Perros: Qué es, Causas, Síntomas y Tratamiento

Waggyfriend! In this blog, we will explain in detail a common but often underestimated disease that affects our four-legged friends: osteoarthritis. We will discover what osteoarthritis in dogs is, its symptoms, diagnosis, available treatments and how to improve the quality of life of our furry companions affected by this condition. If you want to learn more about how to help your dog live a full and comfortable life despite osteoarthritis, read on!

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis in dogs, also known as canine osteoarthritis, is a degenerative joint disease that affects dogs, just as it affects humans. It is a common condition, especially in older dogs, but can also affect dogs of all ages, especially those with a genetic predisposition, obesity, joint injuries or previous joint diseases.

Causes of osteoarthritis in dogs

The causes of osteoarthritis in dogs can vary, but generally include a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Here are some common causes of osteoarthritis in dogs:

  • Normal wear and tear: With aging, articular cartilage tends to gradually wear away, increasing the risk of developing osteoarthritis in older dogs.
  • Genetic predisposition: Some dog breeds have a greater genetic predisposition to developing osteoarthritis. For example, large breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers have a higher chance of developing joint problems.
  • Joint injuries: Traumatic injuries, such as joint fractures or ligament injuries, can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the affected joint.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts additional pressure on the joints, which can increase cartilage wear and tear and cause osteoarthritis in dogs.
  • Abnormal joint development: Some dogs may be born with joint defects, such as hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia, which increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life.
  • Intense or repetitive physical activity: Overexertion or intense, repetitive physical activity can cause joint damage and contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in dogs.
  • Previous joint diseases: Inflammatory joint diseases, such as canine rheumatoid arthritis, can predispose dogs to developing osteoarthritis in the affected joints.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs 

The symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs can vary depending on the severity of the disease and the joints affected:

  • They may limp or have difficulty walking, especially after resting or upon waking up in the morning.
  • They may show stiffness in the affected joints, which may be more noticeable after periods of rest or inactivity.
  • They may have difficulty getting up from the ground, especially on slippery surfaces or when climbing stairs.
  • They may become less active and avoid certain activities they used to enjoy, such as running or playing.
  • It can cause changes in behavior, such as irritability, aggression, or decreased interest in interacting with people or other dogs.
  • In some cases, affected joints may appear swollen or inflamed.
  • They may repeatedly lick the affected joints in an attempt to relieve the pain.
  • Chronic osteoarthritis can lead to loss of muscle mass around the affected joints.

Diagnosis of a dog with osteoarthritis

To diagnose osteoarthritis in dogs, the veterinarian will perform a complete clinical evaluation, which will include a detailed physical examination and review of the animal's medical history. During the physical examination, the veterinarian will observe the dog's gait, evaluate the range of motion of the joints, and look for signs of pain, inflammation, or deformity. In addition, complementary tests, such as x-rays, may be performed to evaluate the condition of the joints and detect signs of joint degeneration, such as narrowing of the joint space, the formation of osteophytes or changes in bone density. The veterinarian may also recommend blood tests or other tests to rule out other medical conditions that may be contributing to the dog's symptoms. An accurate diagnosis is crucial to establishing an appropriate treatment plan that can improve the dog's quality of life and relieve its pain.

Treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs

Treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs focuses on relieving pain, reducing inflammation and improving mobility of the affected joints. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in dogs with osteoarthritis. Examples include carprofen, meloxicam, and firocoxib. It is important to follow your veterinarian's instructions and monitor any potential side effects.
  • Nutritional supplements: Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can help maintain cartilage health and reduce the progression of osteoarthritis in dogs. There are also other supplements such as hyaluronic acid or antioxidants that can be beneficial.

Waggy's Mobility is the newest product on the market, it contains CBD for dogs that helps reduce stress and anxiety in dogs . It contains cartilage from marine sources rich in chondroitin and glucosamine that helps your pet reduce pain and inflammation in their joints. Another ingredient is  Omega 3 for dogs , a necessary and essential component for the development of the puppy. Likewise, it can be an assistant in the treatment of terminally ill cancer patients or in their chemo process.

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help improve mobility and strengthen the muscles around affected joints. Stretching exercises, massages and aquatic therapy are some of the techniques that can be used.
  • Surgery : In severe cases of osteoarthritis in dogs, especially when there are significant joint injuries, the veterinarian may recommend surgery to correct the underlying problem. This may include arthroplasty, arthroscopy, or arthrodesis, among other options.

How to improve the life of a dog with osteoarthritis? Care

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight is essential to reduce pressure on affected joints. Work with your veterinarian to establish an appropriate feeding plan and provide regular controlled exercise to help maintain optimal weight. Pay attention to offering the best dog food such as a barf diet .
  • Provide regular exercise, but avoid strenuous activities that can cause additional stress on the joints. Short, gentle walks, swimming, and low-impact exercises are ideal for maintaining mobility and strengthening muscles. It would be a big problem if your dog does not want to go outside since it would not improve the clinical picture.
  • Provide a comfortable, padded place for your dog to rest, preferably in a warm, dry area. Avoid lying on hard or cold surfaces that may make your pain worse.
  • Make adjustments to the dog's environment to facilitate its mobility. This may include the use of ramps to avoid stairs, non-slip mats to improve traction, and orthopedic beds to provide adequate support.
  • Schedule regular checkups with your veterinarian to monitor the progression of the disease and adjust the treatment plan as necessary.

Life expectancy of a dog with osteoarthritis?

In general, osteoarthritis itself is usually not a disease that significantly reduces a dog's life expectancy. However, the disease can affect the dog's quality of life and its ability to move comfortably, which can lead to additional complications, such as obesity or secondary musculoskeletal problems.


In conclusion, osteoarthritis in dogs is a degenerative joint disease that can affect their quality of life, but with early diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan, many dogs can enjoy a good quality of life. It is essential to provide special care, including weight management, gentle exercise, medications as needed, and environmental modifications, to help relieve pain and improve mobility in affected dogs. Working collaboratively with a veterinarian is key to developing a comprehensive approach that suits each dog's individual needs and ensures their long-term well-being.

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