What Is the Treatment for Arthritis in Dogs?

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There are a number of treatments to reduce the pain associated with arthritis in dogs. An important first step is to provide the dog with a healthy diet and plenty of opportunities to exercise. This helps to avoid excessive weight gain, which can increase symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often prescribed to reduce inflammation and lower pain levels. Other treatments include over-the-counter supplements and, in rare cases, surgery.

Arthritis is a common problem in dogs, affecting an estimated 30 percent of all canines. Symptoms of the condition include changes in a dog’s mood and activity levels, difficulty moving or sitting, weight gain and becoming less interested in play. These symptoms can be caused by a number of conditions, including relatively mild viruses, but they also can be the result of arthritis in dogs.

There is no cure for arthritis, so treatment focuses on reducing pain and avoiding secondary symptoms such as excessive weight gain. If a dog is overweight, then it can cause unnecessary pressure on the joints and result in other symptoms, such as heart problems. Dogs with arthritis should be fed a healthy diet with a lower amount of calories to account for reduced activity levels. It’s also essential that the dog receives enough exercise to maintain a safe weight.


One of the most common, and effective, treatments for arthritis in dogs is the use of NSAIDs. These drugs reduce inflammation and are effective at lowering the pain caused by arthritis. It’s important, however, for pet owners to avoid giving a dog human medication. Certain types of human NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, are poisonous to dogs. A veterinarian also should calculate the dosage, which varies depending on the size of the dog.

There are a number of other treatments for canine arthritis. These include over-the-counter medications, such as glucosamine supplements and omega-3 fatty acids. While these won’t cure the condition, they can slow the progression of the disease and reduce pain in the short term. Pain reduction is an important part of treating arthritis in dogs, because it increases quality of life and allows the dog to exercise more normally.

Surgery is rarely required for treating arthritis in dogs. It is a major procedure for a canine, which many pet owners aren’t willing to put their dog through, and also is very expensive. For long-term pain relief, however, it may be an option.

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