Osteoarthritis is a progressive, degenerative condition in dogs that becomes more severe over time. Osteoarthritis can happen in your dog's back legs, front legs, or both. There's no cure for this painful condition, however, our Stroudsburg vets can provide treatments that may help manage symptoms and allow your dog to enjoy a good quality of life as they age.

What is osteoarthritis in dogs?

One of the most prevalent types of arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative joint disease that can cause the cartilage that cushions their joints to permanently deteriorate. One estimate puts the number of dogs affected by this agonizing ailment at least 25% of the time throughout their lives.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in Dogs

The pain in your dog's joints caused by osteoarthritis can lead to several telltale signs. The major symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs are as follows:

  • Pain, stiffness, and lameness
  • Swollen joints
  • Refusal to jump, use stairs, or run
  • Reluctance to stand 
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of enthusiasm for walks or play
  • Unusual aggression, whining, or irritability
  • Licking at joints
  • Slow shuffling walk

Causes of Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Although this condition can affect any breed of dog, it is most common in larger breeds like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Rottweilers, and other giant breeds.

The exact cause of osteoarthritis is unknown, but it is frequently associated with underlying issues such as trauma injuries, elbow or hip dysplasia, cruciate injuries, dislocations, and so on.

Furthermore, there is evidence that obesity may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis in dogs. Too much weight on your dog's joints can cause pain and weakening over time.

Treatments to Help Manage Pain

Canine osteoarthritis cannot be reversed. The main goals of successful treatment for this condition are to reduce pain, control the progression of the condition, and delay joint degradation so that your dog can enjoy the most comfortable senior years possible.

To achieve pain relief and more comfortable mobility, multiple treatments are frequently used in conjunction.

Painkillers / Pain Meds

Painkillers, such as anti-inflammatories, are often prescribed as a long-term treatment for managing your dog’s joint pain and helping to reduce swelling. 


Exercise is essential for dogs with osteoarthritis. When your dog's condition is first diagnosed, you may need to reduce their exercise routine. However, later on, keeping your dog active will help them stay fit, maintain their weight, and alleviate joint pain.

Exercise should be tailored to your dog's overall health and the severity of osteoarthritis. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend the best level of exercise for your dog's osteoarthritis symptoms.


Managing your dog's diet will be an important part of their treatment for osteoarthritis. Any increase in weight puts additional strain on your dog's joints, so keeping your pup's weight stable will help to alleviate their discomfort.

If your dog has reduced their exercise, your veterinarian may recommend a calorie-reduced diet or supplements containing chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, and omega-3 fatty acids to help with symptoms.

Physical Rehabilitation (Physio for Dogs)

Dog physiotherapy, also known as physical rehabilitation, can include a variety of procedures aimed at reducing pain while maintaining range of motion, improving muscle tone, and increasing overall endurance.

Regenerative therapy, underwater treadmill and/or pool therapy, massage, and therapeutic exercises are common forms of rehabilitative therapy for dogs suffering from osteoarthritis. These treatments can be combined with medications to help manage the inflammation caused by your dog's osteoarthritis.

Check with your veterinarian to see if there is a qualified Canine Physical Rehabilitation practitioner in your area.


Your veterinarian may suggest surgical treatment in certain cases where your dog's joint damage is quite severe to help manage their symptoms and slow the progression of their condition. In order to remove bone fragments that might be making the condition worse, surgeries may be necessary.

Can cold laser therapy help with osteoarthritis?

Cold laser therapy has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis in dogs by promoting tissue repair and reducing swelling. Additionally, this non-invasive treatment can improve mobility and quality of life for dogs suffering from this condition.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Is your dog showing signs or symptoms of osteoarthritis? Contact Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital today to book an appointment for your canine companion. Our vets are able to help your dog live as comfortably as possible with painful conditions.