How to Recognize Osteoarthritis in Your Dog and What to Do to Manage It

We shed some light on degenerative joint disease for dog owners in honor of National Arthritis Awareness Month  

From the LifeMinute.TV Team

May 20, 2022

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. To remind everyone that people aren’t the only ones that get arthritis, we hit the Arthritis Foundation Walk to Cure Arthritis on Long Island. People and dogs alike experience osteoarthritis also called degenerative joint disease. Just like us, dogs with osteoarthritis experience deteriorating, painful joints.

“The Walk to Cure Arthritis is our signature community event. People can come out and make friends," said Nancy Sorbella, Community Engagement Director for the Arthritis Foundation of New York. "We also understand that dogs get arthritis too. In the last 20 years, we’ve realized that movement is the key to feeling better, and that’s why we want to include dogs in our walks with our warriors," she said. 

And it can affect a dog of any age, from young to senior, as well as any size of a dog, large or small, and any breed. Research shows that Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, and golden retrievers are most likely to suffer from joint problems.

“Osteoarthritis is caused by deterioration of joint cartilage, surrounding tissue, and fluid. Over time, this can lead to bone-on-bone contact, chronic inflammation, pain, and swelling," said Dr. David Dycus, Board-Certified Veterinary Surgeon. "Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs, affecting one in five dogs over a year old.” 

Dr. Dycus said the key is early detection and proper management. “Osteoarthritis is a disease that can affect any dog at any age," he said. "Once cartilage wears away completely, it can’t be restored, so it's important to help maintain it early in the disease process." Fortunately, when osteoarthritis is managed early, dogs can have a good quality of life for a long time, the doctor said. “Early communication with your veterinarian about osteoarthritis, along with early management when called for, is key to maintaining your dog’s joint health for as long as possible," said the doctor. "That’s why I recommend talking with your veterinarian about the risk factors for arthritis and detecting it before signs develop.”

Dycus advises contacting your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these signs of osteoarthritis in your dog.

Signs include:

-Stiffness or shakiness when getting up
-Reluctance to walk, run, climb stairs, or jump
-Trouble squatting to eliminate
-Obsessively licking a certain area
-Changes in behavior such as lack of interest in squirrels or other wildlife, or limping after play or exercise 

Walking is one of the best treatments. “Walking is a great low-impact activity for dogs with arthritis," said Dr. Avi Blake of Adequan Canine. "It helps dogs maintain mobility, keep healthy body weight, and feel better overall. Walking with your dog also provides the perfect opportunity to spot signs of potential joint problems.”

To manage your dog's arthritis, your veterinarian may recommend weight control, nutritional modifications, and other lifestyle adjustments, along with medication such as Adequan Canine. It’s the only FDA-approved disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug (or DMOAD) for dogs. And it may help restore joint lubrication, relieve inflammation, and renew the building blocks of healthy cartilage.

“Adequan Canine is different from supplements and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs because it proactively treats the disease, not just the clinical signs of canine osteoarthritis," says Dr. Blake. “If your veterinarian prescribes Adequan Canine for your dog, discuss any possible side effects, including signs of hypersensitivity to Adequan Canine. Adequan Canine should not be used in dogs with known or suspected bleeding disorders, and should be used with caution in dogs with kidney or liver impairment.”

The good news is that osteoarthritis is very manageable over the long term if identified and addressed in its early stages. Ideally, you and your veterinarian will begin talking about your dog’s risk of arthritis during the first puppy visits.

Visit for more information, including full prescribing information, or call 1-800-458-0613 to request a copy.

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