Arthritis in dogs is extremely common. As dogs get older, the cartilage surface of their joints wear and begin to thin causing the cartilage cells to die. The dying cells release enzymes that cause inflammation of the joint capsule and release of excessive joint fluid. Joint and ligament degeneration over time causes instability and secondary osteoarthritis.

Signs of arthritis may be difficult to detect especially in working dogs who do not like to show any weakness or discomfort. This does not mean that they are not in pain or can perform duties to their usual standard. Some signs to look out for are:

  • Lack of interest in running activities, especially in colder months
  • Difficulty and reluctance in going up stairs and jumping off heights
  • Overt lameness-holding the limb up or in an irregular position

Arthritis is progressive and unstoppable. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve their pain and enjoyment of life. Contact your Franklin vets for more advice on the following:


This is the most common treatment for arthritis in dogs and people. Most of the drugs are from the aspirin family (COX-inhibitors) and there are several options available for dogs. We recommend a continuous low does for the maintenance of arthritis and increased doses when pain is noticed or before an activity which is likely to worsen lameness.


This is a series of injections which has been shown to help some dogs with arthritis by limiting cartilage deterioration and promoting new cartilage formation. A course of weekly injections is required followed by monthly booster injections to combat further wear and tear of the joints.


There are several suggested diets for arthritic dogs mainly focusing on weight control since obese arthritic dogs suffer more. Obesity is not usually an issue in working dogs. Some diets contain glucosamine/chondroitin which claim to help control arthritic pain. Other diets contain essential fatty acids. There is some evidence that these diets can benefit your dog and arthritis.


Provide well-padded bedding away from any cold draughts and out of the rain. Arthritis gets worse in cold damp conditions. Your dog may find a sloped ramp easier than steps or jumping from a height.

Stem Cell Therapy

This is the latest treatment for arthritis. We take a fat sample from their abdomen, process it in our laboratory in Pukekohe, then inject the activated stem cells back into the arthritic joints. The dog we have treated with this pioneering treatment have responded very well.

Contact Franklin Vets to enquire about the best arthritis care for your dog.