How to Manage Your Senior Dog’s Arthritis Pain

According to the Arthritis Foundation, around 20% of dogs have arthritis. Arthritis is most prevalent in older dogs. A dog with arthritis may have:

  • Difficulty standing up from a lying position
  • Difficulty climbing stairs
  • Difficulty jumping onto the couch or bed from the floor
  • A narrow stance in the rear legs
  • Muscle wasting in the rear limbs

If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian immediately for diagnosis.

Arthritis Diagnosis in Dogs

Along with a physical examination and health history, your veterinarian will want to take bloodwork and diagnostic imaging to confirm an arthritis diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made, you and your vet can start working on a treatment plan that best suits your pup.

Arthritis Treatment in Dogs

Lifestyle Changes

One of the most important parts of any arthritis treatment regimen for dogs is lifestyle modifications. Several adjustments and adaptations will need to be made to keep your dog as pain-free as possible while lessening the chance of future injury. You can try:

  • Moving the dog’s bedding, food, and water to the ground level helps your dog avoid climbing unnecessary stairs
  • Installing ramps for your dog to use outside eliminates the need to climb porch or deck steps
  • Placing extra bedding on the floor will give your dog somewhere to lay instead of jumping up onto the couch or bed

Dietary Changes & Supplements

Eating a well-balanced diet is extremely important for dogs with arthritis. Not only does a healthy diet give your dog the nutrients they need to promote bone health, but it will also help your dog maintain a healthy weight. This reduces the strain on their joints and lessens arthritic pain. Consult with your vet about what food is the best choice for your dog. Prescription dog foods are often beneficial for dogs with arthritis, as they contain antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids.

In addition to a nutritious diet, you may also want to consider supplementing your dog’s diet with glucosamine and chondroitin. While research is conflicting, there are several studies that suggest that these substances reduce pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.


If lifestyle and dietary changes aren’t enough to give your dog relief from arthritis pain, your veterinarian may suggest prescription medications. It is important that you NEVER GIVE HUMAN PAIN MEDICATION TO YOUR DOG. Many pain relief medications meant for humans are toxic to dogs. Instead, consult with your veterinarian to get a prescription for a medication formulated for dogs.

Alternative Treatments

Alternative treatments are blowing up the veterinary medicine scene these days, much like in medicine for humans. Some of the most popular alternative treatments for arthritis pain in dogs include:

  • CBD products

CBD is purported as a pain-relieving agent for both humans and animals. While the research into using CBD for medical purposes is still early, there does seem to be some sort of relationship between CBD and pain relief. With that said, there is very little regulation of CBD-containing products in the U.S. Products that appear similar may have very different formulations and concentrations that make them work quite differently. It is important, especially in this emerging industry, to do your own research into the manufacturer of any product you intend to purchase for you or your pet.

  • Acupuncture

Acupuncture definitely isn’t a new treatment option, as it has been used widely in eastern medicine practices for millennia. However, its use in dogs is still not well studied or understood. Some owners report significant pain relief from acupuncture treatments on their dogs, while others report little to no change.

  • Physical therapy

Physical therapy is still not common practice in dogs, but it should be! Physical therapy is a common sense approach to dealing with mobility issues in dogs. While more research is needed to find the exercises, activities, and modalities that work best in dogs, we see physical therapy as a great option that should be part of any dog’s arthritis treatment regimen.

  • Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is another great physical therapy option for dogs with arthritis pain. Water relieves pressure on the dog’s joints while providing a firm, massaging treatment that provides pain and stress relief.

  • Yoga

Yes, dog yoga is a thing. And while it certainly isn’t for all dogs, we can definitely see how the stretching and weight-bearing moves used in yoga would be beneficial for dogs with arthritis. So…namaste!

Arthritis Treatment for Dogs in Tampa

If your dog is showing signs and symptoms of arthritis, do not delay in getting them proper veterinary treatment. Every day they go without proper care risks increasing their pain and furthering joint damage. If you and your furry friend are in Tampa, the veterinary experts at Affordable Pet Hospital can help you with diagnosis, treatment, and long-term disease management. Call us at (813) 991-9898 or request an appointment online to get your dog started on a path to healing today.