Home Remedies and Alternative Treatments for Dog Arthritis

Updated on April 1, 2017
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Adrienne is a former veterinary hospital assistant, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."


What to Do at the First Signs of Aging

Your dog has reached seniority. They may wake up in the morning feeling stiff or have difficulty jumping out of the car. This may bother some owners who are used to seeing their dog romping around all day, but the good news is that if you swiftly take care of your pet when you see early signs of arthritis, you have a good chance of preventing the condition from progressing.

It is, therefore, vital that you take your geriatric dog to the veterinarian at the first signs of lameness. This will help your vet rule out other more serious conditions such as Lyme disease or bone cancer.

Home Relief for Arthritis in Dogs

1. Keep Them Lean

The leaner your dog is, the less strain there will be on his joints. Try to not overfeed them, especially if they do not get enough exercise. If your pet is obese, consult your vet so he/she can plan a weight loss program to help them shed the pounds. There are also many prescription dog foods available today that will help reduce weight.

2. Invest in Ramps

If you dog has difficulty getting around, there are special ramps that can help them climb up the bed or up those painful stairs. These ramps can also make it easier for them to get in and out of a vehicle.

3. Prescription Diets

The food brand Hill's produces a prescription diet called J/D (joint diet), created specifically for dogs suffering from arthritis. Because it is a prescription diet, your dog will need to be evaluated in order to have it prescribed. There are many testimonials written by owners who have witnessed great improvement once they put their dog on this special diet.

4. Offer Comfort

If your dog sleeps on the floor, give him/her a nice comfy bed so that he/she will wake up with less stiffness in the morning. For people and pets suffering for arthritis, getting out of bed after a long night of sleep can be really painful, so it is best if the dog sleeps on something soft in order to minimize the discomfort.

5. Exercise

It may sound odd but exercise may actually help your arthritic dog. Of course, the exercise should not be strenuous. A moderate level of exercise will strengthen muscles and ligaments which helps provide support for the joints.

6. Slip-Free Areas

I used to see poor arthritic dogs at our vet's office. After lying on the floor, they had difficulty getting up and would slip. You could almost feel their pain.

If you toss a few rugs on your tiled or wooded floors, your dog will really appreciate it. If your pet is having trouble getting up and walking due to hip problems, place a towel under his abdomen. Grab the two ends and gently pull upwards. By lifting your dog, it reduces the strain on his hips.

How Arthritis Is Detected

Arthritis is detected though a physical examination and x-rays. Large dog breeds that are 7 years of age or older seem to be the most affected, but arthritis can affect just about any breed.

Once diagnosed, your vet will prescribe some anti-inflammatory drugs, often known as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The most common ones include Rimadyl, Previcox, Etogesic, and Deramaxx. Be sure to discuss the side effects with your vet as Rimadyl and Previcox have been known to cause major health problems in some dogs.

NSAID Alternative Treatments

1. Glucosamine

This is not really a medication but rather a supplement. When dogs have degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis, their joints lack good quality joint fluid and cushioning which results in bone degeneration. Glucosamine helps lubricate the joints.

Also known as Glyco-Flex or Cosequin, this supplement is derived from a mussel called Perna canaliculus (hence the fishy odor). Always consult with your vet before giving your dog any supplements. Not seeing a vet may worsen symptoms or cause a delay in treatment because your dog may be suffering from other serious disorders not related to arthritis.

2. Adequan

This medication is injected into the muscle and spreads throughout your pet's body. The maximum effect is felt after 48 hours and relief lasts for 72 hours. The injection works by stimulating cartilage and fluid production in joints. There are very few side effects when compared to NSAIDs. In some cases, dogs may get an upset stomach post-injection, and in very rare cases, they may suffer from a bleeding disorder. Discuss this option with your vet.

3. Acupuncture

There is an increasing number of practitioners offering this option for our four-legged friends. Dogs show great physical improvement after an acupuncture session, especially those with chronic disorders such as arthritis. This practice is surely worth a try should you be looking for an alternative therapy to NSAID.

3. Aspirin

While aspirin is not really recommended for long-term use in pets, under a vet's supervision it may be used for arthritis relief. Discuss this option with your vet and discuss the potential side effects. Never start your dog on an aspirin regimen without first consulting your vet.


An arthritic dog is not like a rusty car soon to be demolished. On the contrary, many arthritic pets lead healthy lives thanks to veterinary advances and tips you can easily follow at home. Some people have witnessed their senior dogs returning to their rambunctious "puppy" personalities after using some of the therapies listed above. Hopefully, these tips will help your dog feel better and maybe even extend his/her life.

© 2008 Adrienne Janet Farricelli


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    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 months ago from USA

      Bob, did the vet rule out an ACL tear? Did he do a drawer test?

    • profile image

      Bob G 3 months ago

      Our 7 year old miniature schnauzer has a right rear leg limp after sleeping or resting for a period of time. Once she gets moving, she walks fine. It first occurred after she received her rabies shot in the right hip. She's been on rimadyl for about 7 weeks and we've exercised her but not excessively. The condition has not improved but she does not appear to be in pain. Our vet is puzzled. Your thoughts please.

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      robin savage 4 months ago

      i gave my dachshund can food with omega with two of them will do it tomorrow plus i will give him some heating pad today on warmth; pl;us i gave him some treats with omega in it he i moving alot better i will continue doing this

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      linda sweet 5 months ago

      my dog runs happily but limps when she walks

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      deb 20 months ago

      be sure to have him evaluated for hip displasia.

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      munro1as 21 months ago

      I have a 16 month 65 lb male lab. He would sometimes limp after playing his daily dose of fetch, when this happened we would just have him rest for the remainder of the day and his limping would go away. We noticed recently that after getting up from lying down for a while, he would limp for a little bit. Yesterday, after playing fetch, he started limping significantly. We had him rest and even this morning his limping did not go away like it normally would. I felt around the area, his right front leg and paw, no signs of any cuts/thorns etc, he doesn’t whimper when I touch and feel around it.

      Could this be a sign of early Arthritis?? Or a possible strain that we didn’t know about that has never fully healed?

    • Didge profile image

      Didge 5 years ago from Southern England

      Impressive hub alexadry! Good post.

    • Paulart profile image

      Paulart 6 years ago from 2510 Warren Avenue Cheyenne,Wyoming 82001

      I like your hub information its very informative for all pet owners.