VCA Animal Hospitals

Does my dog have arthritis?

Published: Aug 16, 2012

Back to News

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis can affect people of all ages as well as dogs. In fact, the condition affects one in every five adult dogs in the U.S. and is one of the most common sources of chronic pain that veterinarians treat.

The Arthritis Foundation reports that signs your dog is suffering from arthritis include favoring a limb, difficulty sitting or standing, increased sleep, the appearance of stiff or sore joints and hesitancy to run, jump or climb stairs. Weight gain, decreased activity or disinterest in playing, attitude or behavior changes and decreased alertness may also signal that your pet has the condition.

Osteoarthritis, which is also known as degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis in dogs. There are several factors that contribute to the condition, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Hip dysplasia in dogs, obesity, joint injuries and other joint conditions are commonly associated with arthritic animals.

The condition can affect dogs of any age. However, it is more common as pets age and large-breed dogs are more likely to suffer from arthritis than smaller dogs.

Because your dog can't vocalize his discomfort, owners with dogs that show any of the clinical signs of arthritis for more than two weeks should make an appointment at their veterinary hospital. Diagnosis involves a physical exam by a vet as well as x-rays in many cases.

Even though arthritis can cause your pet a lot of physical pain, there are ways to treat it and ensure he continues to live a full and healthy life.

In fact, treating arthritis in dogs is similar to treating it in humans. Taking measures such as maintaining a proper weight through a healthy diet and adequate exercise as well as using medications including analgesics like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce the arthritis pain.

However, analgesic medications can cause side effects such as decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Veterinarians must also perform blood tests on animals taking these drugs to ensure they can safely metabolize them.

Pet owners are reminded to never give over-the-counter medications to their animals without first checking with a pet health expert, as certain medications can be toxic and dosages may differ greatly in animals.

Nutritional supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) as well as nutraceuticals such as glucosamine and/or chondroitin are also believed to offer some relief to animals suffering from arthritis.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


See all VCA Animal Hospitals >


Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.