Managing Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis Management in Dogs 

There are several things we can do to help our arthritic pet be more comfortable and confident in their day to day life;

Home environment

  • Find an orthopaedic bed – a soft, deep mattress with low sides that is larger than the dog so they have lots of space
  • Cover slippy floors, steps and walkways with rugs or mats
  • Minimise the need for stairs
  • Use ramps for steps or stairs or for getting in the car where possible
  • Make food and water accessible without too far to go
  • Raise feeding bowls for larger dogs so they don’t have to bend their neck so far down
  • Trim the fur under your dogs feet/between the toes to reduce slipping
  • Keep their environment warm, cold days can make your pet feel even stiffer!
  • Here’s a home assessment checklist that may help:

Weight management

Effectively managing weight is essential, overweight pets find it more difficult to move around as this puts extra strain on their joints

Arthritic pets will be doing less exercise so it is important to modify their diet to reflect this; you may need to reduce the amount of food and treats that are given

Our nurses can guide you and your pet on healthy weight loss and weight loss aids


Arthritis dogs will find exercise much harder, but also some dogs will run through their pain and discomfort when chasing balls so just because they can, doesn’t mean they should!

Some tips to for exercise management:

  • Avoid very long walks and runs
  • Avoid strenuous walks
  • Avoid ball or stick chasing or jumping
  • 5-15 minute lead walks 3 times a day is better than 45-60 minute walks once a day
  • Some terrain e.g. sand, stones, hills may be harder, keep note of walks where your dog stumbles or tires more easily
  • Avoid hazards that could cause them to trip or fall

Diet and nutrition

There are a variety of diets on the marked to aid with mobility which include; Royal Canin Mobility, Purina Joint Mobility and Hills J/D. These foods are rich in supplements that support joint health.

Alternatively, you can add supplements to your pet’s normal food. These supplements are high in Glucosamine and Omega oils to support joint health. Supplements usually come in capsules that can be sprinkled onto your dogs food, some options are: Nutraquin, Seraquin and Yumove Advance.

Currently, there is limited scientific evidence on the efficacy of these supplements, but in human medicine it has been reported that they are beneficial, so there is no harm giving them to your four legged friend. Ideally, they should be given for at least 4-6 weeks before evaluating whether they may be making an impact on your pet’s joint health, however even then, the signs may not be that obvious to us.

Anti-inflammatory medications

There are various anti-inflammatory medications available that are incredibly useful for managing discomfort. Most are given on a daily basis and need to be given regularly to ensure their efficacy.

It is possible that these types of medication can affect liver and kidney function, therefore before starting these, your vet may want to take a blood sample to check the liver and kidney values to ensure they are working optimally first. These should be repeated every 6-12 months.


Librela is a Monoclonal Antibody injection which is given by subcutaneous injection once a month. It is a biological therapy that works like your dog’s own immune system. It targets and neutralises a protein that stimulates the pain associated with arthritis. it is very safe, even in patients with other illness like liver and kidney disease or those who get an upset tummy with anti-inflammatory medication.

See our Librela page for more information.

Joint Injections

Joint injections are a more novel therapy – we can refer you to a specialist to discuss these options at a referral centre. Joint injections involve injecting hylauronic acid or stem cells into the joint (this requires an anaesthetic). There are quite a few specialists which are all about an hour away from the practice.

Other ways of managing pain

There are other medications available to help manage pain related to arthritis. Often, a multimodal approach to medicine is the most effective way to control discomfort.

Cartrophen or Adequan injections can also be used to help with arthritis (pentosan polysulphate or polysulphated glycosaminoglycans)

Please contact us if you think these options may be needed and we will be able to help!

Complementary Therapies

There are many options available within this field which include;

  • Hydrotherapy
  • Physiotherapy – including massage, prescribed exercises, shockwave therapy and cryotherapy

If you would like to explore these therapies, we recommend that you speak with a vet first who could then appropriately refer you to a therapist.

If you would like more information, you can visit the Canine Arthritis Management website.

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