Fraser Valley Animal Hospital

2633 Ware Street
Abbotsford, BC V2S 3E2


Canine Arthritis

Could Your Dog Have Arthritis?


Arthritis in dogs is a very common condition in our older dogs and in fact studies show that 1 in 5 dogs will develop arthritis.  Arthritis is inflammation within the joint, which is a slowly progressive disease. 

Our goal is to diagnose arthritis as early as possible to

1. Help slow the progression of the arthritis and

2. Keep you dog free of the chronic pain that is associated with arthritis. 

Three important things one must remember as you watch your dog to see if he/she may have arthritis:

  1. Remember that arthritis is a progressive disease so changes occur slowly overtime which means that the changes often are missed early on as they slowly become the new norm.
  2. Just like in people your dog will have good and bad days which means until the arthritis is in an advance stage you may not see the behaviour change daily.
  3. The following behavioural changes can all be seen with arthritis but (a) no one dog will have all the changes seen on the list and (b) some of the behavioural changes can be seen with other conditions not just arthritis.

Here is your “My Dog Could Have Arthrits” check list….
  1. Slowing Down (Don’t make the mistake of a dog who is slowing down as “my dog is just getting older” Slowing down is very commonly due to pain)


  • May be slow to stand up (especially from a sit to a stand)
  • Lays around more
  • Laying down to eat their food
  • Sleeping more
  • Sleeping longer –reluctant to get out of bed in the morning

What To Do If Your Dog Is Scared Of Stairs
  1. Gait /Movement/Stance - Is there a change in how your dog moves?
  • Close hind leg stance – may shift their hind legs closer to their midline to help take weight off their sore knees and hips
  • Wide front leg stance –elbows pushed out and away from the body
  • May be stiff – especially the first couple of steps after standing up
  • Bunny hops – hid legs moving together when running
  • Difficulty with slippery flooring
  • Limping
  • Walking less than normal – watch for trends of not wanting to walk the usual distance
  • Slow on stairs
  • Difficulty/hesitant to jump into/out of cars or onto couches/beds

Why Is My Dog Suddenly Aggressive Towards Me?
  1. Personality - Is there a change in your dog’s interaction with you or other pet’s in the home?


  • Cries when picked up NOT common but we can see this in our little dogs with back pain but even many of these dogs will suffer in silence – do not rule out arthritis just because your dog doesn’t whimper.
  • No longer want you to pet or brush his/her back?
  • Decrease interaction with you or other pets?
  • No longer playing with toys?
  • Avoiding activity
  • Increase aggression with family members or other pets?

What is Muscle Atrophy? - HydroPaws
  1. Muscle wasting
  • Because our dogs are not moving as much they start to loose muscle mass, the less muscle mass the more weight the skeleton must support which increases the stress on the joints, which increase joint inflammation and thus the arthritis.

Why does my dog lick to the point of bleeding? – Sam Sherrington – Osteopath
  1. Joint Licking

What To Do?

We are staring to find companies are developing newer helpful products for our dogs to help them with this common aging problem.

Options include:

  • Diets and joint supplements
  • Weight loss (10% body weight loss in our overweight pats can give as much relief as medication and has the added benefit of over all health improvement AND is cheaper than medications)
  • Environmental changes – throw carpets for slippery floor, yoga mats in front of food bowls to make it easier to stand to eat
  • Omega 3 FA
  • Cartrophen injections to help maintain the cartilage
  • Laser therapy
  • Medications

If you are seeing these signs, or have concerns, call 604-854-2313 or email us at and we will help you with your dog’s comfort.