Everything About Dog Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disorder (DJD), is a condition that affects both humans and animals; dogs are no exception. From statistics, 8% to 20% of dogs in the UK have one form or another of OA. In this article, we have shared everything you need to know about this condition.

What is Dog Osteoarthritis?

As the name suggests, this is a condition in dogs that causes the progressive and permanent damage of the cartilage tissue that surrounds the joints. Once the cartilage is worn out, or shrinks, the bones come into contact causing inflammation.

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

How do you know if your dog has osteoarthritis? That’s the biggest question for dog owners. Well, it’s hard for you to diagnose osteoarthritis so you will need to have your dog checked by a qualified vet.

But then, there are those telltale signs that your dog could have been affected by this joint disorder including;

  • Lack of energy and enthusiasm (lethargy)
  • Stiffness, and lameness in adverse cases
  • Sudden unexplained weight gain
  • Irritability and changes in behaviour
  • Pain when touched, or petted
  • Difficulty in urination and defecation posture
  • Inexplicable accidents around
  • Loss of muscle mass in the limb and spine area

Causes of Dog Osteoarthritis

It’s sad to watch your dog walk in pain, and it makes you wonder, what caused it? Well, there are several causes of osteoarthritis, as discussed below.

  • Genetics: Just as in humans, OA can be passed through genetics, and that means your dog could have a family history of the condition
  • Old age: A study showed that 30% to 50% of dogs contract OA as they grow older
  • Injuries: Fractures, ligament tears and related injuries can also lead to osteoarthritis in dogs
  • Repetitive stress: Pressure on specific spots can cause OA, especially if it is repetitive stress, for example when dock diving or in flyball, among other strenuous activity.
  • Obesity: Some obese dogs may develop OA as a result of the excessive pressure on the joints
  • Improper nutrition: Sugar, salt, dairy, and fried foods are known to aggravate OA

How to Manage Dog Osteoarthritis

Once your dog has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the vet will recommend a suitable way of managing the condition, depending on the stage it’s at. There are several osteoarthritis medications and management methods including joint supplements, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), and even surgeries.

And it’s not just the treatment, there are several complementary therapies to help alleviate the pain, and most importantly, to stop the degeneration. These include exercise and weight management.


There you have it, folks, a guide to dog osteoarthritis. As mentioned earlier, what’s most important is to diagnose the osteoarthritis early enough. That means inspecting your dog always and look out for the symptoms of OA. Visiting your vet soon enough will also be critical in the management of the condition.

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