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Osteoarthritis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Osteoarthritis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

As dogs age, they may develop osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative condition that worsens over time. Although there is no cure for this painful condition, our vets at Monterey Park offer treatments that can help manage symptoms and improve your furry friend's quality of life.

Osteoarthritis & Your Dog

Did you know that osteoarthritis is a prevalent form of arthritis in dogs? This joint disorder can cause damage to the cartilage that cushions their joints, leading to chronic pain and discomfort. It's unfortunate that this condition affects at least 25% of all dogs at some point in their lives.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Dogs

The pain in your dog's joints caused by osteoarthritis can lead to several telltale signs. The major symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs are as follows:

  • Pain, stiffness, and lameness
  • Swollen joints
  • Refusal to jump, use stairs, or run
  • Reluctance to stand 
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of enthusiasm for walks or play
  • Unusual aggression, whining, or irritability
  • Licking at joints
  • Slow shuffling walk

Causes of Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Although any breed of dog can develop this condition, it is more commonly observed in larger breeds such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Rottweilers, and giant breeds.

The exact cause of osteoarthritis remains unknown, but it is often linked to underlying issues such as injuries from trauma, elbow dysplasia or hip dysplasia, cruciate injuries, dislocations, and more.

There is also evidence suggesting that obesity may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in dogs. Extra weight can exert unnecessary pressure on your pet's joints, leading to discomfort and progressively weakening your dog's joints over time.

Treatments to Help Manage Pain

Osteoarthritis in dogs cannot be cured or reversed, but there are ways to manage it effectively. The main aim of treatment is to alleviate pain, slow down joint degeneration, and manage the condition's progression, ensuring that your furry friend leads a comfortable life as they age. Various treatments may be used in combination to achieve pain relief and improve mobility.

Painkillers / Pain Meds

Anti-inflammatory painkillers are frequently prescribed for long-term management of your dog's joint pain and reduction of swelling.


It may seem counterintuitive, but regular exercise is crucial for dogs with osteoarthritis. Following a diagnosis, you may need to modify your dog's exercise routine, but keeping them active can help maintain their overall health and weight, as well as reduce joint pain. The specific exercise plan should be tailored to your dog's overall health and the severity of their osteoarthritis. Your veterinarian can recommend the best exercise level to alleviate your dog's osteoarthritis symptoms.


Managing your dog's diet will be a critical component of their treatment for osteoarthritis. Any increase in weight puts extra stress on your dog's joints, so keeping your pup's weight at a healthy level will help to minimize their pain.

Your vet may recommend putting your dog on a calorie-reduced diet if their exercise level has been reduced, or a diet supplemented with chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, and omega-3 fatty acids as a way to combat symptoms. 

Physical Rehabilitation (Physio for Dogs)

If your furry friend is suffering from osteoarthritis, physical rehabilitation may help reduce pain and improve their overall mobility. This type of therapy, also known as physiotherapy for dogs, involves various treatments that can strengthen muscles, maintain range of motion, and enhance endurance.

Cold laser therapy, regenerative therapy, underwater treadmill and pool therapy, massage, and therapeutic exercises may be included in rehabilitative therapy for dogs with osteoarthritis. In some cases, medications may also be prescribed to manage inflammation.

If you're interested in exploring this option, be sure to check with your veterinarian for recommendations on qualified Canine Physical Rehabilitation practitioners in your area.


If your dog's joint damage is significant, your veterinarian may suggest surgical intervention to relieve symptoms and prevent the condition from worsening. Surgery may involve the removal of bone fragments that could be exacerbating the issue.

The Prognosis for Dogs with Osteoarthritis

By implementing proper long-term pain management and providing extra care, your furry friend can still have a joyful and extended life despite osteoarthritis. It's advisable to consult with your veterinarian to learn more about managing your pup's joint pain and how to assist your dog in living a happy life for years to come.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

If your furry friend is exhibiting indications or indications of osteoarthritis, don't hesitate to get in touch with Veterinary Healthcare Center to schedule an appointment. 

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Veterinary Healthcare Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Monterey Park companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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