Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints. It is the number one cause of chronic pain in dogs. One in five adult dogs are likely to suffer from arthritis, and this number doubles in those seven years and older. Arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes: 

  • Pain, limping 
  • Loss of mobility, stiffness when getting up or down 
  • Slowing down when exercising, not wanting to jump or climb steps 

Generally, arthritis is worse at the beginning of the day and improves as the day progresses as the joints warm up. It is important to see these signs and begin treatment early on. This will help to slow down the progression of arthritis and help preserve your pet’s quality of life. 

Weight loss/Exercise 

As joints age, they become weaker. It is important that your dog’s joints can withstand the load of the body (this also includes diseased joints in any age). Maintaining a lean body condition to prevent overloading their joints is a vital component of management. If your dog is overweight it is helpful to put them on a prescription diet to maintain their ideal weight or get them down to their required weight. Diets such as Hills Metabolic + Mobility are appropriate.   

Controlled exercise is important for dogs with arthritis.  Exercise helps to keep your dog in lean body condition and maintain supportive muscle structure as well as their general wellbeing. Keeping exercise slow and easy makes sure your pet stays comfortable. Exercise such as: 

  • Short, frequent walks at a normal pace are a great start 
  • Gentle swimming is also good for arthritis as it takes the pressure off the joints 
  • Try to keep a consistent routine and avoid making your dog do all the exercise on the weekends 
  • High impact exercise such as running or sudden, jerky movements like fetching a ball or running in soft sand can make damaged joints painful

Joint Diets 

These diets are complete and balanced and your dog can be fed solely these; no additional treats or supplements are required whilst on these diets as it may decrease the effectiveness of the food. These diets can also be fed after an orthopedic surgery or trauma. It may take up to 3-6 weeks before you see results.  

Hills j/d – A complete diet with fish oil, glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin sulfate, helps to repair damaged cartilage and protect existing cartilage from breakdown. Dogs must be at least a year old before this diet can be used. 

Hills Metabolic + Mobility – Also a complete diet that helps with weight loss and weight management as well as arthritis. This helps make your pet feel full and satisfied between meals and has high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin which helps reduce inflammation and improves energy. 

Joint Supplements 

Joint supplements can be given to pets with arthritis while still being fed their same diet. Pernaease powder is 100% natural with no added fillers or chemicals. It contains green lipped mussel, abalone and shark cartilage. Results can be seen within 2 weeks and is given once a day with food e.g. a 250g jar will last a 20kg dog 145 days. 

4cyte – contains Epiitalis, comes in granules or gel. The gel (Epiitalis forte) is better for severe or acute arthritic pain, granules are more suitable for mild disease.  

Cartrophen Injections 

We recommend Cartrophen as one of the main treatments for arthritis. It is effective in 80% of dogs with arthritis. These injections protect the joint cartilage by: 

  • Limiting cartilage degradation 
  • Promoting cartilage formation 
  • Improving the joint fluid 
  • Improving blood supply to the joint, in turn helping it heal 
  • Provides pain relief  

A course of weekly injections over a month is all that is required. The injections are painless and given under the skin like a vaccination. This ensures the effect lasts approximately 6-12 months. The best time to commence treatment is before winter when arthritis is at its worse.

Pain Relief 

We recommend first and foremost using a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs).  This reduces joint inflammation thereby reducing the damage arthritis can cause.  NSAIDs are also very effective for pain relief which is extremely important in ensuring your dog moves around normally and maintains muscle mass to help support their joints. Gabapentin is also another affective medication for added pain relief, as can amantadine (not licensed, takes 4-6 weeks to see full effect).