Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Written by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: Nov 17, 2020

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Arthritis in dogs is very common, particularly as they get older.

You might notice that your dog doesn’t climb the stairs as quickly as he used to or that running by your side is no longer an option.   The usual culprit is arthritis.

Just like humans, arthritis is a result of damage to the cartilage.

In a normal dog, each joint has cartilage that works as a buffer between the bones. When the cartilage within a joint becomes damaged, the result is arthritis.

Arthritis can occur in any joint in your dog’s body, but the most common places are the elbows, hips, shoulder, knees, ankle and lower back.

Arthritis is much more common in dogs than in cats since dogs are more active which puts more pressure on their joints.

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FACT: Pet insurance pays up to 90% of vet bills when your pet is sick or injured!

Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

vet checking beagle for arthritis

Arthritis is sometimes hard to detect in the early stages.  As it progresses, some of the common symptoms are the following:

  • Avoidance of running or reluctant to climb stairs
  • Lethargy, sleeping more often, tires quickly
  • Difficulty jumping on the couch
  • Does not play as often or enjoy it
  • Weight gain
  • Limited movement
  • Changes in appetite
  • Depression, grouchy
  • Irritated easily
  • Starts to poop in the house
  • Stiffness

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Causes of Arthritis in Dogs

While the most common cause of your dog developing arthritis is the aging process, there are also some other causes include:

  • Joint injuries
  • Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
  • Obesity
  • Joint Diseases or Infections
  • Hip Dysplasia

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

Diagnosis of Arthritis in Dogs

Once you see the symptoms of arthritis, it is important to take your dog to the vet for a full diagnosis.

Arthritis alone might not be the only cause of the symptoms that your dog is exhibiting.

Your vet will want to know about how your dog has been behaving and will probably feel around and try to manipulate your dog’s joints to see if there is any cracking or grating of the joints.

X-rays are generally the best way to diagnose arthritis.

Your vet will probably have your dog walk around the room to see where arthritis seems to be occurring.

Treatment of Arthritis in Dogs

There are many of the same treatment options for arthritis in dogs as there are in humans.

The goal is to minimize the dog’s pain while increasing the movement level and to slow down the joint damage and, if possible, repair the cartilage.

Your vet will give you the best treatment recommendation for your dog, but the most common are the following:

  • Prescription Pain Medication
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Cortisone or Steroids – should only be used short term
  • Special Diet
  • Physical Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Surgery – In extreme cases
  • Weight management

Any jumping or vigorous play should be avoided.

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PetFirst saved his parents


A happy energetic Luna one morning couldn’t hold her food down. After months of multiple costly vet visits to specialists and an endoscopy, the problem was discovered and fixed. Luna put 22 pounds back on in no time and her parents were grateful for having PetFirst by their side to pay the bills.

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Can Pet Insurance Help With Your Dog’s Arthritis?

While some of the costs of arthritis are not that expensive, the therapy will be on-going for the duration of your dog’s life.

Pet insurance will save you money on your prescription costs as well as other non-invasive treatments like acupuncture and massage.

Healthy Paws, for example, includes alternative therapy options in all their plans such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and physiotherapy.

If your vet decided to start your dog on prescription medication, there will be follow up test on your dog’s liver and kidneys’ to make sure they haven’t been negatively affected by the medication.

Some of the prescription medications can run from $25 to $100 a month.

Pet insurance can be used to offset the costs of all these diagnostic tests.

And in extreme cases, if your dog needs surgery, the bill can be a minimum of $10,000.

Of course, you need to be enrolled in a pet insurance plan before the arthritis is considered pre-existing so you can be covered!

Arthritis Prevention

The best prevention of arthritis or any other condition is to keep up with your veterinary visits to catch the symptoms before arthritis becomes severe.

Once the symptoms of arthritis set in, there is no cure, but you can work with your veterinarian to minimize your dog’s pain.

How to Manage Your Dog’s Arthritis

The best way to manage your dog’s arthritis is to make your dog’s home more comfortable and easily accessible.

Some of the ways you can help your dog’s joint pain are the following:

  • Massage the arthritic joint or joints
  • Car ramps or even a ramp to your bed helps your pup
  • A comfortable cozy bed
  • Make sure the food and water bowls are easily accessible
  • A supportive harness can help when walking
  • Minimize the jumping
  • Light exercise

While it’s hard for you to see and can be painful for your dog, with the right treatment and comfortable home environment, your dog can continue to live a long, happy life.

If you are looking for an insurance plan that will cover alternative treatments before your dog exhibits any signs of arthritis, our top 10 pet insurance companies are a great place to start!


Other articles you may find helpful: 

Is Exotic Pet Insurance Necessary? 

The Best Pet Insurance By State 

What Is Pet Insurance?

Fun Facts, Dog FAQ, And Unsolicited Dog Advice

5 Training Commands to Save Your Dog’s Life

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Foods for Dogs

Dog Health Problems

Dog Breeds


Cat Health Problems

Cat Breeds


We get it, your dog is like your child and when your puppy or dog has health problems it is scary. Luckily there is pet insurance companies that will help you pay for any veterinarian care they made need. Checkout the best puppy and dog pet insurance companies and learn about common puppy health issues and ailments in older pets


Common Health Problems:

Acral Lick Granuloma in Dogs

Alopecia in Dogs

Antifreeze Toxicity in Dogs

Aortic Stenosis in Dogs

Arthritis In Dogs

Bladder Stones in Dogs

Boxer Cardiomyopathy

Cataracts In Dogs

Cherry Eye in Dogs

Chronic Active Hepatitis in Dogs

Collie Eye Anomaly In Dogs

Constipation in Dogs

Cruciate Ligament Tear in Dogs

Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

Degenerative Myelopathy | Spinal Cord Disease In Dogs

Dementia in Dogs | Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Demodicosis In Dogs

Dental Problems in Dogs

Diabetes In Dogs

Dog Comedones (Schnauzer Bumps)

Dog Diarrhea: What Can You Do To Help?

Dog Ear Infections

Dystocia in Dogs

Ectropion in Dogs

Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Entropion In Dogs

Eye Problems in Dogs

Fleas in Dogs

Gallbladder Obstruction in Dogs

Gallstones in Dogs

Gastroenteritis In Dogs

Glaucoma in Dogs

Heart Murmurs In Dogs | How To Identify Them

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hot Spots On Dogs

Hyperparathyroidism In Dogs

Hypothyroidism In Dogs

Intervertebral Disc Disease In Dogs

Nasal Solar Dermatitis In Dogs

Patellar Luxation in Dogs

Progressive Retinal Atrophy In Dogs

Renal Failure in Dogs

Seizures in Dogs

Wobbler Syndrome In Dogs

The Dog Flu – Symptoms & Treatment for Canine Influenza

Dog Biting Nails