What is Canine Arthritis? - Alba Physiotherapy
Brid Walsh Health Tips

"Almost Daily Health Tips From Expert Physiotherapist Brid Walsh..."

Use the Form Below to Get Them All Sent to You for FREE

What is Canine Arthritis?

What is Canine Arthritis (Osteoarthritis) Living with Canine Arthritis

You may have heard of Canine Arthritis, also known as canine osteoarthritis, but what actually is it?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is when the ends of bones rub against each other causing friction and pain. This is because the cartilage that normally covers the ends of bone has worn away and the fluid that sits within a joint has decreased.

OA causes thickening and inflammation around a joint due to changes in the cartilage and joint structure. It is commonly seen in older dogs but can also be seen in dogs that are unfit, overweight or have had previous injury. 

Common joints that can be affected are, hips, knees and ankles of the back legs. Also  the shoulders, elbows and wrists of the front leg. It can also be found in the intervertebral joints along the neck and back.  

OA is a degenerative disease which means it can progressively get worse and unfortunately there is no cure.  However the condition is completely manageable with the right toolkit of information and a routine.  Having these will help provide the best quality of life for your dog. 

How can it affect your dog’s daily life 

Due to discomfort in a joint with OA, the joint will be used less which can lead to wastage and weakness of muscles and stiffness within the joint. 

You may find that your dog is less active being more tired with decreased activity levels and loss of stamina.  They may not be able to carry out general movements easily as they were used to such as:

  • Getting up and down from sitting or lying
  • Performing agile movements, such as turning and changes in angles. 
  • Going up and downstairs easily
  • Jumping up onto a bed or chair

Dogs with OA can often be irritable, finding joints painful which can lead to not wanting to be touched over that area and can potentially be grumbly and aggressive. 

What should you look out for?

Common signs for arthritis include:

  • Limping/ lameness 
  • Stiffness and muscle wastage 
  • Pain signs; such as licking/chewing and area of the body (see the diagram below for more signs your dog is in pain).
  • Behaviour changes; signs of aggression to people or other animals 

The good news…

It is not all doom and gloom! You can have great fun caring for your dogs with OA.  Having OA means they need some great quality time and lots of extra cuddles!

What can you do to manage OA:

There is so much that you can do to help your dog live with OA starting with:

  • Management of weight 
  • Tailoring your exercise plan 
  • Diet and supplements; changes or add ins  
  • Complementary therapies (physiotherapy/hydrotherapy)
  • Changes in the home environment 


How can physiotherapy and hydrotherapy help?

Here at Alba Physiotherapy, we see many dogs with OA and help them and their owners navigate the condition. Treatment at Alba will:

Relieve pain in the joints

Relieve muscular tension

Maintain optimal joint range of movement

Encourage Muscle building/strengthening

Prevent further joint damage. 

Improve your dogs quality of life


Come back next week when we will be discussing how you can help at home!

Brid Walsh

Brid Walsh

Brid qualified in 2004 with a BSC Honours Degree in Sports and Exercise Science from the University of Limerick, Ireland. In evaluating her future path, she spent a summer in Alaska with the Hope Foundation supporting disabilities of various sorts. Her further work experience in the Rehabilitation Centre in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin convinced her that Physiotherapy was the direction she wished to specialise in. In 2007 she subsequently qualified from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen with an MSC in Physiotherapy.
Brid Walsh

Latest posts by Brid Walsh (see all)

Share This
Google Rating
Based on 37 reviews