Treatment of Canine Arthritis

Treatment of canine arthritis is aimed at relieving the pain and promoting improved mobility and strength. It includes a combination of medications, supplements and physical therapy to manage arthritis.

Medical Medications

The most common treatment for arthritic treatment of canine arthritis dogs is NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These medications help reduce inflammation and relieve pain by blocking certain compounds that cause inflammation in the body. But NSAIDs have side effects, such as kidney and liver damage. To monitor their effectiveness and side effects, your veterinarian may perform routine blood work.

Diet and Nutrition

The right diet can also help reduce the symptoms of arthritis in dogs. Some foods, such as fish oil, have been shown to reduce inflammation and limit cartilage damage. Ask your vet for a food with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Daily exercise can keep stiff joints supple and mobile. Your dog’s exercise needs vary, but a light to moderate regimen is recommended for most dogs. Ideal activities include walking and swimming, which are low-impact and can improve muscle mass without overstressing joints.

Massage and Acupuncture

Your vet can prescribe massage to help ease the stiffness and soreness that comes with arthritic pain. They may also recommend acupuncture, which involves very thin needles placed in specific points on your dog’s body. Acupuncture can decrease inflammation and pain, and increase nerve function.

Stem Cell Therapy

A promising new treatment for canine joint problems is stem cell therapy. These cells have the ability to heal damaged cartilage and strengthen bones. However, these treatments are still in their experimental phase, so it’s not yet known whether or not they can help your dog’s arthritis.

Alternative Medicine

Acupuncture and other non-invasive treatments are often used in conjunction with conventional methods to treat arthritis. They can be effective for many dogs with OA, but it’s important to consult your vet before adding them to your pet’s treatment plan.

Other forms of physical therapy can be beneficial for arthritic pets, including therapeutic laser treatments, therapeutic exercise and hydrotherapy with an underwater treadmill. Your vet can refer you to a rehabilitation specialist who will be able to recommend a variety of exercises and techniques.

Cold Laser

The use of a focused, low-level light source and small amounts of heat can be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain. It can also stimulate cellular growth and regeneration, which can help ease the pain caused by arthritis.

Shockwave Treatment

A form of non-invasive treatment, shockwave therapy uses sound waves to affect the affected joints. This type of treatment can increase circulation, decrease inflammation and pain, and speed tissue healing.

Electrical stimulation

There are two types of electrical stimulation: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES). These treatments work differently, and can have different results.


Depending on the severity of your dog’s condition, surgical options can help reduce joint damage and promote increased mobility. Surgical procedures may include a cruciate ligament repair, hip replacement or a joint fusion.

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