It’s a degenerative condition that affects and inflames one or more joints. It can result in changes to the joint cartilage, joint fluid, joint bones and capsule of the joint, making them stiff and/or painful. If your dog has arthritis, he or she may have difficulty sitting or standing, or be reluctant to jump, run or climb stairs, or they may sleep more. They may seem generally slower or stiffer and show less interest in play, and you may even see behavioural changes such as anxiety or aggression. Their decreased activity levels may result in visible weight gain.

There are many things that can cause arthritis in dogs such as traumatic injuries that result in joint instability, genetically weakened or unstable joints e.g. hip dysplasia, failure of proper bone development when young, or increased strain on joints through obesity.

Control the amount and type of food your dog eats to keep them within the recommended weight for their breed. Your dog also needs low impact exercises that offer a good range of motion, build muscle and limit wear and tear on their joints. These could include walking and slow jogging on grass, swimming, going up and down stairs. Arthritis often gets worse in cold, damp weather, so keep your dog warm and comfortable with a blanket or little jumper. Think about making your home a bit warmer, too. And to make life easier when your dog wants to kick back and relax, consider getting a firm, orthopaedic foam bed. They help distribute weight evenly and reduce pressure on joints. They are also much easier for your stiff and aching friend to get out of. Physiotherapy can help too to help increase the range of motion in their joints.

Your veterinarian may prescribe arthritis medications to assist in managing arthritic pain. The first once-a-month nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in Australia is now available to dog owners to help slow the progression of the disease and provide a better quality of life for your pet. Speak to your local vet for more information on the best treatment options for your dog.