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Arthritis in Pets: Understanding the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is a common condition affecting pets. It is characterized by the progressive deterioration of joint cartilage, which leads to inflammation, pain, and reduced mobility. 

While arthritis can affect pets of any age, it is more prevalent in older animals and those with a history of joint injury or genetic predisposition.

This progressive and often painful joint disease can significantly impact a pet's quality of life, making it crucial for pet owners to recognize the signs and symptoms. 

In this blog, we'll discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for arthritis in pets, providing insight into how you can help manage this condition and keep your furry companion as comfortable as possible.

Causes of Arthritis in Pets

Several factors can contribute to the development of arthritis in pets. Some of the most common factors include:

  • Age: As pets age, the cartilage in their joints naturally starts to break down, increasing the risk of arthritis.
  • Weight: Overweight and obese pets are more prone to arthritis due to the increased stress placed on their joints.
  • Breed predisposition: Some breeds, particularly larger dogs, are more susceptible to arthritis due to genetic factors.
  • Joint injury: Pets with a history of joint injuries or surgeries are at a higher risk of developing arthritis later in life.
  • Infections and immune disorders: Certain infections and immune-mediated diseases can also cause joint inflammation and arthritis.

Symptoms of Arthritis in Pets

The signs of arthritis in pets can vary, with some being more obvious than others. Below are some of the common symptoms that you may notice in your pet:

  • Limping or favoring one or more limbs
  • Stiffness, especially after periods of rest or in cold weather
  • Difficulty rising from a sitting or lying position
  • Reluctance to jump, climb stairs, or engage in activities they once enjoyed
  • Swollen or tender joints
  • Reduced mobility and range of motion
  • Changes in behavior, such as irritability or lethargy

Make sure to set up an appointment with your veterinarian if your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms. Early detection and treatment can make a big difference in your furry friend’s life.

Treatment Options for Arthritis in Pets

While there is no cure for arthritis, various treatment options can help manage the condition and improve your pet's quality of life. Some of these options include:

  • Weight management: Helping your pet maintain a healthy weight can significantly reduce the stress on their joints and alleviate arthritis symptoms. Your vet may recommend a prescription weight management diet such as:
  • Exercise and physical therapy: Regular, low-impact exercise, such as swimming or walking, can help maintain joint mobility and muscle strength. Physical therapy and range-of-motion exercises can also be beneficial.
  • Joint supplements: Supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids can help support joint health and reduce inflammation. Some options include:
  • Pain management: Your veterinarian may prescribe medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain-relieving medications to manage pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Common canine NSAIDs include:
    • Carprofen, available as:
    • Meloxicam, available as:
    • Deracoxib, available as:
      • Deramaxx: Formulated as chewable tablets
      • OstiMax: Formulated as chewable tablets
      • Doxidyl: Formulated as chewable tablets
    • Firocoxib, available as:
      • Previcox:  Formulated as chewable tablets
    • Grapiprant, available as:
      • Galliprant: A newer type of canine NSAID, sold in tablet form
  • Alternative therapies: Some pets may benefit from alternative therapies such as acupuncture, laser therapy, or massage to help alleviate pain and improve joint function.

Preventing Arthritis in Pets

While it's not always possible to prevent arthritis, there are steps you can take to reduce your pet's risk:

  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle: Provide a balanced diet and regular exercise to help your pet maintain a healthy weight.
  • Schedule regular veterinary check-ups: Regular visits to your veterinarian can help detect early signs of arthritis and other joint issues, allowing for early intervention and management.
  • Provide joint support: Offer joint supplements, especially for breeds predisposed to arthritis or pets with a history of joint injuries.


Arthritis in pets can be a painful and challenging condition to manage, but with early detection and proper care your pet can still live a happy and active life. 

Talk to your veterinarian about the best joint care options for your pet and visit to order top quality arthritis care products, including joint support supplements and prescription pain management medications.

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