(Degenerative joint disease or DJD)

Description and Causes

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of dog arthritis. While there are many different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis refers to degenerative arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease. Arthritis and osteoarthritis in dogs is the most common source of chronic pain for older dogs.

Osteoarthritis is caused by progressive inflammation and deterioration of the soft tissue, cartilage and bone in one or more joints. It is a chronic and degenerative joints disease that leads to pain and decreased mobility. The cartilage in the dog’s joints breaks down and causes friction between the bones. Inflammation also can cause bony growth on the joints and thicken the soft tissue.

Arthritis in dogs is most commonly a result of old age, and general wear and tear or trauma. In some cases dogs suffer from congenital joint diseases such as osteochondrosis, or hip and elbow dysplasia that can result in arthritis as the dog ages. Metabolic diseases such as Diabetes and Cushing’s disease have also been linked to wearing down the cartilage and causing osteoarthritis in dogs.


Dogs with arthritis tend to be less active than normal, and lethargic. They may have difficulty rising, climbing stairs, or jumping onto furniture and into cars. In some cases osteoarthritis causes cracking sounds when the joint is moved, signs of arthritis in dogs include stiffness, visible pain, and muscle wastage.

When the symptoms of arthritis begin to appear in your dog, especially if he or she is an older dog, an appointment should be made with a vet immediately so that a diagnosis can be made and dog arthritis treatment can begin.


Ostearthritis can’t be cured at present. Treatment involves the use of appropriate anti-inflammatory and pain relieving drugs, controlled exercise and weight reduction if necessary.

Hydrotherapy:- Swimming in warm water is of great benefit to dogs with osteoarthritis. Swimming offers non-weight bearing exercise, allowing dogs to continue exercising when it would otherwise not be possible or is too uncomfortable, and maintaining cardiovascular fitness. The water helps to warm and support the joints and encourages a full range of joint motion, thus reducing stiffness. The cohesive and hydrostatic effects of water help to massage the limbs as they are pulled through the water, this resistance helps to increase and maintain muscle mass. Swimming also helps to maintain a positive mental attitude allowing less mobile dogs to move freely and with less discomfort and won't aggravate joint pain.

Acupuncture:- is a very effective means of treating lameness and pain due to arthritis. It is also useful for relieving muscle spasm that occurs elsewhere in the body as a consequence of the dog shifting its weight away from its arthritic joints.

Physiotherapy:- is also useful for relieving muscle spasms.

Weight:- Joint problems are aggravated by excess weight. If a joint is not working efficiently, carrying excess weight causes both additional pain and increased damage to the joint. Therefore, it is important that your dog maintains his or her ideal weight.

Exercise:- Regular, gentle exercise helps maintain mobility, as joints that do not have regular movement may stiffen up, encouraging your dog to become less and less active. Exercise may take the form of walks on the lead. Frequent gentle walks are of more benefit than highly energetic activities.

Magnetic Collars

Magnetic bracelets are very beneficial in reducing the symptoms of OA, some dogs also appear to benefit, particularly for reducing joint stiffness, while others do not respond. It is important to buy a good quality magnet.

Joint Supplements

It is thought that joint supplements can be of benefit in the early stages of OA and as a preventative in young dogs with known joint conditions or from susceptible breeds. Glucosamine and Chondroitin combined are thought to be of more benefit than Glucosamine alone. Many insurance companies will cover the cost of supplements under your pet’s veterinary treatment. There are supplements available that contain added ingredients such a MSM, Devils Claw, Turmeric, Yucca, Vitamin C.