Osteoarthritis in dogs: how to improve their quality of life?


Preventive care, keys to treat osteoarthritis of dogs

The progressive drop in temperatures expected with the arrival of autumn will have an impact on the joints of dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis, according to experts, who recommend a daily routine of gentle exercise and diet control to avoid overweight

Javier López Villajos - 25-09-2018 - 12:30 H

The arrival of autumn, as such, may be delayed, but its effects on pets will not be long in coming. And, as professionals point out, animals are sensitive to temperature changes, especially those diagnosed with some type of affection in their joints, in which they will experience that thermal contrast.

The professionals of the Innova veterinary clinic predict that the arrival of autumn will not only bring less hours of light, in addition to cold and humidity, but that the temperature changes will especially affect those dogs that suffer from osteoarthritis. In this way, it is foreseeable that "the pain and stiffness of your joints is aggravated", so experts recommend visiting the veterinarian for an orthopedic check-up.

For their part, veterinarians of the La Asunción clinic explain that "osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints, wearing away the cartilage that covers them and sometimes reaching the bone, something that causes pain and inflammation in addition to reduced mobility in the animal".


Experts point out that large breeds of dogs such as the English bulldog, the French bulldog, the boxer, the German shepherd or the rottweiler are more predisposed to suffer from this type of ailment.

However, professionals indicate that, although it is a more characteristic disease of older dogs, and more when pets tend to be increasingly long-lived thanks to veterinary treatments, osteoarthritis can also appear when they are younger in In case of suffering some type of previous pathology such as hip dysplasia or any type of fracture that leaves the joints misaligned.

Finally, experts point out obesity as another risk factor given the weight exerted on the joints.


Lameness, difficulty in exercising, irritability caused by joint pain and lack of appetite are some of the most common signs of osteoarthritis in pets according to professionals.


Experts recommend the promotion of a daily exercise, at a gentle pace, to maintain healthy joints, a diet that controls overweight, detailing that there are specialized feed containing nutritional joint protectors that are basically vitamins, and finally, avoid overexposure to Sudden changes in temperature.

However, professionals advise visiting the veterinarian once a year to perform a physical examination of the dog before he turns 8 years later to go on to two annual checkups with the aim of detecting osteoarthritis early.

This information is merely indicative, in Animal’s Health, we remind you that, if in doubt, it is best to take your pet to the veterinarian.

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What is osteoarthritis in dogs?

Osteoarthritis of the dog causes loss of cartilage structure, responsible for joint mobility

Canine osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints of a progressive nature (symptoms become more severe over time), degenerative and can be congenital. This medical condition causes the loss of cartilage structure, responsible for the mobility of the joint. As in the case of people, the discomfort and symptoms derived from dog osteoarthritis They are aggravated by the cold and humidity and the heat of summer. Therefore, with extreme temperatures, the condition of the animal suffering from osteoarthritis worsens.

The joints of a dog that has osteoarthritis are not as flexible or thick as those of a healthy dog. The cartilage structure is lost or worn and causes discomfort when the animal moves. Hence limp or find it hard to get up, lie down or climb stairs. Osteoarthritis in dogs therefore translates into lameness, difficulty walking, climbing stairs, slow movements. The blows or traumatisms in the joints, in addition, favor the formation of this disease that can be located in a certain joint or be of generalized character in all the cartilages.

Dogs with osteoarthritis: causes

The causes that influence the onset of osteoarthritis can be hereditary, as in the case of hip or elbow dysplasia in dogs.

The obesity It is also a risk factor for the dog to suffer from osteoarthritis. Overweight loads the joints, which wear out and deform more quickly than in the case of a dog that has a suitable weight for its age and size.

In addition, the accelerated growth in large breed puppies It also influences the greater predisposition to suffer from osteoarthritis. To avoid this, a moderate exercise is recommended during the development and growth of the animal. A correct and balanced diet, that is, adapted to the size, age and degree of physical activity performed by the puppy, is also essential to ensure adequate and gradual bone growth.

Vitamin supplements for dogs, as well as excess calories in the diet, encourage the growth of the large-sized puppy at an accelerated rate. Therefore, we must bear in mind that "a good quality feed adapted to the characteristics of the puppy does not need vitamin supplements that favor the appearance of joint problems," says Ignacio Arija, veterinarian and expert in canine nutrition.

Osteoarthritis in dogs and their size

Dogs like the boxer or bulldog are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis mostly affects large dogs, such as the German shepherd or the rottweiler. The elderly dogs too They are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis, due to the wear of the cartilage of the joints. If the large breed factor joins the older one, we have as a result a dog with more chances of suffering from osteoarthritis.

"Big dogs tend to suffer more joint problems than small ones," explains Juan Antonio Aguado, veterinarian and professor at the Complutense University of Madrid. In fact, large dogs live less time than small dogs, due to joint problems.

Flat dogs, like the boxer or bulldog, too They have more predisposition to suffer from osteoarthritis. "These are races that, due to the type of genetic selection to which they have been subjected, have abnormal joint development," explains María González, veterinarian of the Animal Equality association.

Osteoarthritis in dogs: treatment

Canine osteoarthritis it is treated with anti-inflammatory properties and with minerals, vitamins or collagen that nourish the cartilage and prevent wear and deform. "The treatment is preventive, palliative, anti-inflammatory and analgesic, but not curative, because osteoarthritis is a chronic disease," explains Aguado.

The important thing when the dog suffers from osteoarthritis is to avoid, as far as possible, the discomfort derived from the disease and achieve the highest possible quality for the patient.

Four guidelines to improve lime>

1. Control the weight of can.

2. Adequate food, which is rich in fatty acids, so that it favors the greasing of the joint.

3. Controlled exercise. Physical exercise that overloads the dog's joints, such as running through the park, is not recommended. It is more advisable to canine swimming or walks.

4. Protect the animal from extreme temperatures. Dogs suffering from osteoarthritis get worse with extreme temperatures, that is, both in winter and in summer. With the cold, the dog needs to be warm at home and sleep in a soft and comfortable bed. On the other hand, the heat negatively influences the state of health of the dog with osteoarthritis, since he will feel more tired. Therefore, it should be maintained in a place where the temperature is not very high, with shade and / or air conditioning.