A Guide to Canine Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Many people assume that osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition that affects humans alone, but that isn’t the case. OA is a degenerative condition that affects all animals, dogs included. More than 20% of all adult dogs have some form of arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation.


What is Canine Osteoarthritis?


In a nutshell, canine OA refers to a condition where the cartilage surrounding the joints is progressively degenerating or has worn out completely, causing chronic joint inflammation.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Dogs

The main symptom of osteoarthritis in dogs is pain, just like in humans, horses, and other animals. While it is hard to tell the severity of the condition, there are some obvious signs your dog is in pain.

Now, the pain often causes partial lameness which is manifested by a stiff gait, reluctance to exercise, and bunny-hopping. A dog with osteoarthritis pain will also be aggressive and has signs of discomfort.

Diagnosing Canine Osteoarthritis

While there are visible signs that your dog has OA, you must have it checked by a vet as soon as possible. It’s even much better if the condition is discovered early. There are several diagnosis methods your vet might choose, including physical examinations, clinical signs, radiographs and synovial fluid analysis.

What Causes Dog Osteoarthritis?

Just like in humans, osteoarthritis causes in dogs can be classified into two. We have the primary causes and secondary causes.

Primary degenerative joint disorder (DJD) is associated with genetics and other biological aspects that are not known as of now.

On the other hand, secondary causes of DJD in dogs include abnormal joint wear, congenital defects at birth, and trauma among others.

Managing Canine Osteoarthritis

It’s really hard to see your best friend in excruciating pain. It gets worse when you start nursing thoughts of euthanising it to save it from the pain. The good thing is that, while canine OA is not curable, there are several ways of managing it.

  • Weight management – This is the most critical OA management method. The idea is to reduce fat which produces inflammatory agents that trigger joint inflammation.
  • Rehabilitation – Motion exercises, therapy, and aqua therapy are among the rehabilitations you can accustom your dog to. Also, consider cutting down on high-impact activities.
  • Medication – In case you are wondering what you can give your dog, there are many pain relievers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as joint supplements.
  • Surgery – There are several instances where surgery can also be the only way to save your dog.


There you have it, folks, a guide to canine osteoarthritis. Indeed, this is a serious concern for dog owners, but the good thing, it can be managed, especially if diagnosed early. That’s why it’s important to see a vet immediately if you notice pain or activity impairment.