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How Long Can Dogs Live with Arthritis?

It can be quite devastating when your canine friend gets diagnosed with a degenerative disease that has got no cure such as arthritis. But, the good news is that your dog can thrive and live with arthritis. With such a diagnosis you are left with one option, trying to ensure your dog leads a comfortable life for the rest of its remaining life. But the main question is ‘how long is the rest of its life?’ Can a dog expect a long life once diagnosed with arthritis?

How Long Can a Dog Live with Arthritis?

Arthritis can affect both young and senior dogs. A dog whose arthritis is well-managed can live a long and healthy life. The length of time a dog can live with arthritis is largely determined by the quality of care it receives. The following measures can help extend the life of an arthritic dog; weight and diet management, lifestyle and comfort, exercise, and supplements. You should always consult a veterinarian before proceeding to exercise these measures since some of them will need an experienced person.  

What is Arthritis and How Does It Affect Your Dog’s Life?

Walkin' Wheels dog wheelchair for pitbull

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes inflammation of a dog’s joints.  It affects the joints of the dog and makes it hard for the dog to perform some otherwise simple activities such as playing, walking, running, or jumping.

In a healthy dog, at the point where bones connect, they are covered with a thin layer of cartilage. This thin layer is lubricated by a fluid that eliminates friction and makes it easy for them to glide.

In dogs suffering from arthritis, this cartilage is damaged, meaning that the joints produce friction when there is movement.

Consequently, the dog will experience pain and discomfort every time it tries to move. Due to friction, new bone will form to replace ones that are worn out by friction. This results in stiffer joints that limit mobility.

Arthritis is most common among senior dogs, especially due to wear and tear of the bones around the joints.

However, arthritis can also affect younger dogs as well. In younger dogs, arthritis is caused by bone or joint development problems.

In juvenile or younger dogs, arthritis is normally a result of

  • Joint instability
  • Abnormal cartilage development or damage to the cartilage
  • Damage as a result of trauma

For younger pups, arthritis can also develop after an infection such as Lyme disease or tick-borne disease. However, arthritis resulting from this cause is rare compared to the above name causes.

Either way, whether your dog has suffered from arthritis from a young or old age, following the measures discussed below will help prolong its life.

How to Make an Arthritic Dog Comfortable and Prolong its Life

The following tips will help improve the quality of your dog’s life and potentially prolong its life.

1. Weight and Diet Management

Under normal circumstances, and when your dog has a clean bill of health, you may get away with not worrying much about your dog’s diet as far as it meets its nutritional needs.

However, if your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis or any other degenerative disease, your dog’s diet and weight should always be on your radar. A healthy and balanced diet is very important, especially if you want to keep your canine friend from adding weight.

An overweight arthritic dog will suffer from pain caused by the extra pressure on the already weak joints. A balanced diet will also ensure that your dog’s immunity system is strong and can fight other diseases, such as warts, that are common among dogs with weak immune systems. To come up with the right plan for diet and weight management, seek the help of your veterinarian.

2. Lifestyle and Comfort

Comfort is one of the priorities to adhere to if you wish to prolong the life of your arthritic dog. For a dag to be comfortable, you might have to change its lifestyle. Lifestyle changes can come in terms of purchasing comfortable beddings specifically meant for dogs with a condition such as arthritis.

For instance, orthopedic beds are designed in such a way that they provide comfort to the dog’s joints. Another good addition to your arthritic dog lifestyle is a dog wheelchair. A dog wheelchair will greatly improve the mobility of your dog.

Keep your dog warm in cold months, such as during winter. As the cold can actually make aching joints hurt even more. Invest in a good heat pad-heat has been proven to help soothe painful joints.

If you have slippery floors or surfaces in your house, ensure they are covered and inaccessible by your dog. Or else use ant slip mats.

3. Importance of Exercise for Arthritic Dogs

disabled dog running in cart

While most arthritic dogs will not look forward to or even enjoy this technique to improve their quality of life. Exercise can also act as a preventive measure against arthritis.

When implemented early enough, exercises will help improve your arthritic dog’s life since they will control and prevent stiffness and reduce pain.

Your dog’s lack of enthusiasm during exercise should not turn you off. Just be careful when performing some of the exercises. Since when performed wrongly, they can lead to more harm than good. Never push your dog. Over-exercise can be just as harmful as not enough exercise. Avoid jumping and running. Gentle exercise is recommended for arthritic dogs.

For instance, when you massage your dog wrongly, you might end up causing more pain. Additionally, you should be very careful about the nature of the exercises you put your dog through. Another great exercise that will help your arthritic dog is hydrotherapy.

Exercise will help improve blood circulation in your dog’s body, oxygenation, reduce stiffness, and ultimately if your dog is under any medication or supplementation. Improved blood circulation due to exercise will lead to better delivery of these drugs or supplements to the intended destination.

While administering exercises such as massage, you can use natural oils such as CBD oil. CBD oils have been proven to reduce inflammation caused by arthritis.

4. Therapeutic Arthritis Treatments

Wheelchair dog has laser therapy

Dr. Nicole Cohen, DVM, DABVP, recommends many treatment options to her clients. “Cold laser therapy is offered in many clinics to aid in treatment for arthritis pain and various other orthopedic conditions.  This laser treatment takes about 10 minutes and is implemented at first a few times a week (2-3) and then reduced to 1-2 times a month as needed.  It is nonpainful and can be localized to various areas to maximize benefit.”

Additionally. Dr. Cohen says, “Acupuncture is a modality that is increasing in popularity for our feline patients.  I have personally seen the benefits of acupuncture in my own cat, who I treated for mobility changes and arthritis pain.  After her first treatment, she climbed down a set of stairs she had not utilized in over a year.  I was astounded.  Acupuncture should be performed by a trained specialist.  Many veterinarians have taken specialized training courses to learn how to incorporate the benefits of acupuncture into their practice.  Acupuncture is also implemented at first a few times a week (2-3) and then reduced in frequency gradually as needed.”  

5. Mobility Aids for Canine Arthritis

Painful joints can restrict a dog’s movement and make daily activity a challenge. Providing mobility support will help to keep your dog moving and relieve joint pain. There are many mobility support options available, and there are some designed for specific types of arthritis:

  • A canine back brace for spinal arthritis offering back support and stability
  • Hip brace for dog’s aid with hip support for canine hip dysplasia and arthritis in the hip joint
  • Dog wheelchairs offer rear leg support for aching hips and leg joints to help improve mobility
  • Lifting harnesses offer added support in dogs with leg weakness caused by arthritis

The type of arthritis support needed will be different for every dog and every situation. Mobility aids can be incorporated into a dog’s rehab exercise for additional support and enhancement.

German Shepherd DM harness
Buddy Up Harness

6. Supplements

As mentioned earlier, arthritis affects the joints of your dog. Therefore, ensuring that your dog has enough supplements that help with maintaining the health of your dog’s borne, such as calcium, is very important.

Seek the help of a veterinarian before buying and starting supplements on your dog. This is because all dogs do not have the same supplement requirements. Some dogs may need more supplements because of their size as compared to a dog with a smaller build, such as a poodle.

7. Surgery

A dog with an advanced arthritic condition may need to undergo surgery. However, canine arthritis surgery is typically a last resort. Surgery is only recommended for advanced canine arthritis cases when no other treatment has worked. Surgery is vital in arthritic dogs, especially if they are in a lot of pain. The type of surgery recommended depends greatly on the age of the dog as well as the severity of the dog’s condition. A young dog who is still growing may undergo preventative surgery, whereas a senior dog may have the affected joint removed entirely. These surgeries should only be performed by experienced veterinarians and in well-equipped hospitals. And only when recommended by your Veterinarian.


Dog arthritis can be fatal, especially among dogs that do not receive enough care. A dog’s arthritis can lead to a reduced lifespan of the dog. However, you can lengthen the life of your arthritic dog by offering high-quality care. Either by learning how to perform the above-mentioned care techniques or by hiring someone who is experienced in that department. With proper care and treatment, a dog with arthritis can lead a normal, active life.

Some of these techniques you can learn with time as you watch your vet perform them and cut costs by performing them yourself with time.

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