Dog Arthritis Symptoms And Home Pain Remedies

As arthritis develops dogs are reluctant to move around.
As arthritis develops dogs are reluctant to move around. | Source

What Are The Signs of Arthritis in a Dog?

Arthritis symptoms can be seen in any age dog but are most common in geriatrics. The most common presentation is seen with older, large breed dogs, but even little dogs can develop arthritis when they have certain problems, like knee caps that slip out of place. If you notice any of these arthritis symptoms treatment can be started early and your dog has a lot better chance of recovering.

General arthritis symptoms to look for:

1. Reluctance to play: This is one of the first things you might notice. A dog that would normally chase the ball for hours may not even bother to go after it even once. Don’t assume that just because your dog is getting older he will not want to play anymore. If it is winter you will notice this problem even more.

2. Decreased activity and weight gain: If your dog is slowing down when climbing the stairs, having difficulty rising in the morning, and even reluctant to go on walks, he will most likely gain weight. Obese dogs have a more difficult time rising, more difficulty rising, and will be reluctant to go on walks. It is up to you to prevent a simple problem from destroying your dog´s life. Dogs still need exercise when they become obese and arthritic but they should be shorter walks, and he should go out a few times a day.

3. General loss of tone: Along with the reduced activity, you might notice your dog´s body becoming softer and less muscular. This will follow the other symptoms and should not be missed.

4. Grumpy attitude: Your old dog may even bite. Biting is not a reason to condemn your dog; he may just be telling you “leave me alone; I am in pain”.

5. Symptoms of pain in the affected joint: Most dogs will not show clear evidence of pain until the situation is advanced. These final arthritis symptoms will be obvious. If you bother to notice he will even tell you where it hurts.

Arthritic dogs may become grumpy.
Arthritic dogs may become grumpy. | Source

Do Certain Parts of the Body Have Different Symptoms?

Yes, and if you are worried about your dog you need to learn where he is suffering!

1. Hip: Arthritis in this joint is most commonly seen with big dogs who have inherited hip dysplasia. The most common symptom when your dog is feeling pain in this joint is licking. If he could massage his sore hips he probably would but, since he can´t, licking is the next best thing.

2. Elbow and shoulder: These usually have only subtle differences. If one elbow is worse than the other your dog might try to walk on three legs.

3. Back joints: Your dog may be nervous and try to move away when you try to pet hi s back.

4. Feet and legs: The dog will lick on the sore joints, sometimes until the hair is gone and an open wound is present.

5. Neck: Your dog may try to sit down to drink and eat. He may show fear when you try to touch him and of course will not want to roughhouse.

As soon as you notice any of these changes take him to your regular veterinarian for an examination. After he palpates the joints and detects arthritic changes he may want to do X-rays to monitor the severity.

Some changes can be made at home. Think about how living conditions need to change for geriatric humans and then think about your dog. He may need ramps, a raised food and water bowl, and an orthopedic bed.

A stiff walk is a symptom of arthritis.
A stiff walk is a symptom of arthritis. | Source

What Are the Conventional Treatments for Arthritis?

1. Steroids: Although these drugs can help at times, there are numerous side effects (like damage to the cartilage and weight gain).

2. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Many of the large pharmaceutical companies are working in this area but most of the drugs released, so far, have serious side effects: stomach ulcers, kidney damage, and liver damage. These drugs will never cure arthritis but are formulated to make your dog feel better.

What Are the Alternative Treament Options for Arthritis?

1. Fish oil supplements: An omega 3 supplement is vital in treating arthritis because it reduces inflammation. Many veterinarians now consider this a conventional treatment so your dog may start this supplement early in the course of his disease. It is also an antioxidant so will reduce some of the damage done to your dog´s body.

2. Other antioxidants: Vitamin C may be used since it protects the collagen. If acerola, a natural source, is too expensive, look for alternatives. Adequate sources of Vitamins A and E also help.

3. Glucosamine and chodroiton are also now widely accepted alternative therapies.They are probably most effective when given early in the course of the disease; if you notice symptoms early it may be started before severe changes have occurred.They might help at any time. One liquid brand is listed in the eBay ad above, another product (Technyflex Canine) is produced from mussels in New Zealand. Some anecdotal reports say that the human product available at your local pharmacy is also effective.

4. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine: I realize that these options are not available to everyone but have been successful when combined with other therapies. I do not want to make any recommendations for these therapies so unless you have a veterinarian that specializes in these treatments you should consider other options.

5. Massage and hydrotherapy: Call around your area and find out if massage is availble. If there is a pool available for your arthritic dog to exercise, there is a lot less stress to the joints.

6. Organic diet: Especially one formulated for arthritic dogs, using collagen meat sources (like trachea) and the supplements I have discussed above.

7. Apple cider vinegar: Doses and potential benefits can be found here.

8. Herbal therapy to reduce inflammation and pain: There are several options available. To reduce inflammation you can try bromelain, parsley, or garlic. For pain, you can try St. Johns wort and cayenne. Herbal treatments may take a lot longer to show any benefits so if you want to try something consult a holistic veterinarian and start as early as possible.

He may not be younger but at least he can feel that way.
He may not be younger but at least he can feel that way. | Source

Can All This Help Manage His Arthritis?

Besides alternative therapies, you should perform a weekly physical examination on your dog and be aware of any changes early.

If your dog is diagnosed with arthritis there are many options you can investigate. You can just say “he is old and there is nothing we can do about it” or you can aggressively treat his symptoms and give him several years of productive life.

Learn the symptoms of arthritis in your dog. Your dog deserves it.

© 2012 DrMark1961

More by this Author

Comments 8 comments

Lily 5 months ago

What an informative hub! There are really so many treatment options for an arthritic dog that people often don't even consider. I basically self-taught myself how to perform massage techniques on my arthritic dog, and your mention of apple cider vinegar is one remedy on this list I had never read about before! My boxer has arthritic knees, which can make exercise difficult and on days with longer walks I used to be able to really notice her discomfort. From doing my research online I found the Ortocanis dog knee brace and bought one for each of her knees! The Ortocanis one I chose because it wasn't rigid like most of the others I saw online, a and they were super reasonably priced. I don't put it on her every day, but when she does have them on it almost always makes a difference in her gait.

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Most of the people I have talked with about glucosamine recommend it be given for the rest of the dogs life. If my dog was improving with Technyflex, I don't think I would want to stop and take a chance of her getting worse again! I have no idea about the gel, but it sounds great.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

The nice thing about Technyflex is that you don't have to keep giving it to the dog forever. Mobicosa fixed my arthritis and I'm still in perfect working order a decade later. I've written about mobicosa in hubs - including using the gel for swelling. It just occurred to me that the gel could probably be used on dogs as well. :)

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Thanks for that suggestion, LongTimeMother. It is one of the natural glucosamine/chondroiton supplements. I give my dog raw beef tracheas for the same reason. They do not need the product now, but anecdotal evidence shows that they prevent progression.

I am editing this to add your suggestion up above.Thanks again.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

This interesting hub caught my eye. I know quite a few people who have successfully treated arthritis in dogs using Technyflex Canine made from New Zealand green-lipped mussels (by the same people who make the Mobicosa brand for humans).

I'd suggest anyone with an arthritic dog research it on the internet. Old dogs seem to become young again. :)

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Thanks DoM I really appreciate your visits and have gained a lot from your articles on antioxidants. I really appreciate your vote of confidence.

Beth, the other article gives some options on the omega 3 supplements but for a Lab with mild symptoms it is a great way to go. I have no idea why your vet hasn't brought it up with you yet since it is pretty normal therapy now, but if your dog is responding to a few days of NSAIDs that is the way most vets will choose to treat. I hate to harp on this but the pharmaceutical companies visit every week with mugs, note pads, desk blotters, etc, all so that their product names will not be forgotten. Companies that sell fatty acids don't have that profit margin and never do that kind of marketing.

BethDW 4 years ago

Great hub! My lab-mix is about to turn nine, and she's had a couple of incidents now where she started to limp very suddenly, and both times the vet put her on anti-inflamatories for brief periods (just a few days, until her symptoms waned). I had no idea there were such serious side affects associated with those drugs!

With her it is difficult to see the symptoms of her joint pain until they are severe, because she is a very calm and laid back pup generally (she's never been big on playing...she'll scrap with or younger dog occasionally, but she has no interest in toys, and really the only exercise she enjoys is her daily run). And she also isn't one to complain. So unfortunately, we didn't realize it was even an issue until she began limping the first time.

I know that because she is so large, and has had weight issues most of her life (I adopted her when she was 6, and when she came to me she was severely overweight) that her joint problems are likely to be exacerbated as she gets older...thanks for providing so much helpful info as to how to safely manage this problem! I'll definitely be starting her on an Omega-3 supplement right away (I don't know WHY my vet hasn't brought this up with me yet!)!

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

Have I mentioned I love your hubs? Another fantastically informational hub! I even bookmarked this one, my dog is an adolescent now, but we might need this down the road. Living in Florida just exacerbates arthritis symptoms (I know that from personal experience lol)

Voted up and Awesome and shared!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article