How to Help a Dog With Arthritis

by Katharine Hillestad, DVM on February 15, 2012

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Health Benefits of Dogs

Did you know that approximately 20% of adult dogs suffer from arthritis in one or more joints? The pain of arthritis can greatly diminish a dog’s quality of life.

Signs of arthritis in the back or hips include limping, getting up slowly, stiffness after sleeping, and a ‘bunny-hopping’ gait when going downstairs. Dogs usually don’t cry or whine when they have arthritis, but the pain can be severe.

Take some time to watch your dog move around indoors and outside during his normal activities. If you suspect he may be uncomfortable, ask your veterinarian to check him over. This will involve a thorough physical examination, and probably some x-rays.

How to Help a Dog With Arthritis

Many people are surprised to learn that one of the most helpful things for dogs with arthritis is weight loss. Researchers have found that overweight dogs with hip osteoarthritis and hip pain have a significant decrease in lameness following weight reduction. Along with maintaining a healthy weight, moderate daily exercise is also very important. (Gee, is this beginning to sound similar to what our human doctors keep telling us?). Other things that are thought to be helpful in arthritis include Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate. Talk to your veterinarian for more complete recommendations.


For dogs with moderate to severe arthritis, veterinarians often recommend including a prescription medication for pain relief. One of the most commonly recommended pain relievers for dogs is Rimadyl. Rimadyl helps to relieve pain and inflammation caused by arthritis and other joint abnormalities. It is also used for pain relief following surgery. Rimadyl comes in liver flavored chewables or scored tablets that are easy to administer. Rimadyl contains carprofen, which is also available in a generic form under the name Novox.

As with all prescription medications, Rimadyl should only be given under a veterinarian’s supervision, and monitored carefully for side effects. Years ago, there was no way to bring pain relief to dogs with arthritis. With medications such as Rimadyl, the improvement in a dog’s quality of life can be truly amazing. For more information about Rimadyl, watch our video.


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About the author: Dr. Katharine Hillestad received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Illinois. She is a companion animal veterinarian and has a special interest in feline medicine, animal behavior and nutrition. Dr. Hillestad has been with Drs. Foster and Smith since 2001. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association. See more articles by Dr. Katharine Hillestad.

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Be Smart About Your Pet’s Medications
August 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

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JP February 15, 2012 at 10:40 am

My dog is just starting to move slower in his old age. Good info, thank you.

Mrs.D February 15, 2012 at 7:28 pm

very interesting and helpful article!

Tom Booth February 16, 2012 at 3:50 am

Great post and thank you for highlighting the importance of dog arthritis, I completely agree, if your dog is overweight at all, it will not help as it is added pressure on those joints.

Emma March 15, 2012 at 10:48 am

My sister has some arthritis, it is sad when she can’t race around like she used to but she is taking Rimadyl and something else natural that helps her a bit. #CELEBRATE Luv you guys and your products!

tamera lott March 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I am trying to get my vet to switch to Novox so I can save some money if not I will be ordering Rimadyl from you to save money. #CELEBRATE

Jen June 4, 2012 at 9:27 am

My mother is using magnetic therapy to treat her arthritis. She is amazed by how much better she is feeling. Just wondering if anyone knew if it was available for animals?

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