If your dog seems lazy or is reluctant to run, play, or even get out of bed the day after exercising, he may be suffering from arthritis.

Dog RunningOther signs of arthritis in dogs can include:

  • stiffness when getting up
  • "falling" abruptly when trying to lay down
  • reluctance to go up or down stairs
  • loss of muscle (due to lack of use
  • limping
  • obvious pain

Years ago veterinarians recommended aspirin for the treatment of mild pain in dogs, particularly to those who are older and struggling with arthritis. This is no longer true. Aspirin has been linked to gastric ulcers and bowel bleeding. It has certainly NEVER been recommended for use in our senior cats. Aspirin and Tylenol can kill cats.

You can help your arthritic dog without prescription medication, but we don't recommend that you try that without at least reviewing all the tools at your disposal (and there are many). Bring your dog in to us for a thorough examination, including blood work, so that we can help determine the level of arthritic pain and "layer" different medications and/or treatments that will help.

Is Your Dog Overweight?

We will be happy to provide a weight graph spanning the years to make it more "visible" that, indeed, your pet has slowly gained weight. Sometimes we hesitate to mention the word obese for fear of offending you! Fat is linked to chronic health conditions, and arthritis is one of them. The more excess weight those joints are carrying, the worse it will be for your pet.

Keeping your pet at an ideal body weight is, without a doubt, the number one thing you can do to improve the quality of life and extend your pet's lifespan. Think of the money you'll save on medications and diets also! Therefore, we'll discuss diet, activity and weight reduction at the time of examination.


Nutraceuticals are nutritional supplements that are not FDA approved, but they have shown great promise in helping (not correcting) certain physical ailments. There are many nutraceuticals available on the human market, but most in the veterinary market are for decreasing joint pain. These can help the synthesis of collagen, shield cartilage from destructive enzymes, and increase the viscosity of joint fluid.

For a dog with arthritis, you'll likely get a recommendation for glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, omega fatty acids, MSM, perna caniculus, and more. We offer pet foods and treats that have these ingredients as well as therapeutic diets.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Our strongest recommendation against arthritic pain is the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Every day chemical and physical injury happens to cells. NSAIDs interfere with the formation of inflammatory mediators by inhibiting the action of cyclo-oxygenase radicals. By doing so, fever is lowered, blood clotting slows, post-operative pain is reduced and anti-inflammation in arthritic dogs results.

We have seen many dogs step lively again with the use of these medications. We use several types and monitor closely for side-effects over long term usage. Sometimes we find that we need only to use NSAIDs in working dogs, over active dogs, and during cold, rainy weather.

There are other medications that we may recommend in conjunction with NSAIDs in order to add more relief for increasing musculoskeletal and neurologic pain. These are Tramadol, Gabapentin and Adequan injections.

Alternative Therapies

A discussion of arthritis with its debilitating pain would not be complete without a discussion of alternative therapies that are becoming more and more popular. We work closely with Dr. Sybil Davis, DVM CCRP, of Aiken Pet Fitness and Rehabilitation. She designs individual regimens of physical therapy for each pet to complete at her clinic or in your home. She also offers acupuncture, underwater treadmill therapy, cold laser treatments, chiropractic adjustments and a multitude of therapeutic treatments in her spacious gym (land treadmill, balance boards, physioballs, trampolines and more).

Lastly, take a look around your home. Look closely at the floors, steps, and sleeping arrangement for your pet. It's hard for aging pets to walk on slick surfaces.

  • Are their nails very long? Consider scatter rugs with rubber mats underneath.
  • Build an incline for outdoor steps and cover with indoor-outdoor carpeting. Peruse pet catalogs (we purchase many items from www.petedge.com) for easily maneuverable and light weight ramps for use in your car.
  • Does your dog have a raised bed and raised food and water bowls? This decreases the necessity of bending and lowering those old bones! Don’t forget a thick orthopedic egg crate or bed.

These are all sensible, helpful care items that will make your pet more pain free.

After all, we want more and more pain-free years from our golden pets!