Inflammation of the Joints in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 08/11/2017Updated: 08/19/2021
Inflammation of the Joints in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Inflammation of the Joints?

Your veterinarian can provide a pain management plan to keep your dog comfortable for many years. Most dogs who suffer from inflammation of the joints will progressively get worse as the joints change and deteriorate. If your dog’s condition deteriorates quickly, sometimes pain management will not help your dog. In these cases, rather than allow your dog to suffer needlessly, euthanasia is recommended.

Inflammation of the joints in dogs is simply another way of saying your dog is suffering from arthritis. It is a common problem in dogs, especially as they age or if they suffered an injury to a specific joint. Most dog owners will know if their dog is suffering from arthritis because the symptoms are the same as a human’s who also has arthritis. Inflammation of the joints will cause your dog pain, discomfort and stiffness.  You may notice they limp or have trouble getting up.

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Symptoms of Inflammation of the Joints in Dogs

Many of the symptoms that your dog will experience with inflammation of the joints will be the same as humans who suffer from arthritis. If you notice our dog slowing down and acting like he is in pain, contact your veterinarian for an appointment. 

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness
  • Swelling of the joint
  • Licking the affected joint
  • Unwillingness or unable to stand up
  • Mood changes

Causes of Inflammation of the Joints in Dogs

Inflammation of the joints in dogs occurs when the cartilage within a joint has undergone a change or is damaged. This joint becomes rough and the bone surfaces of the joint rub together, causing inflammation. The joint becomes stiffer and will eventually limit the motion of the joint. A normal joint will have a thin layer of cartilage covering the bones and lubricated with joint fluid. The joint glides smoothly and freely without any friction or discomfort. 

Inflammation of the joints can occur for a number of reasons including congenital disorders such as luxating patellas. Obesity can also contribute to inflammation of the joints by putting unnecessary stress on your dog’s joints. Injury of the joint can also cause inflammation to occur and the joint to not function properly.

Diagnosis of Inflammation of the Joints in Dogs

Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s medical history and his daily routine. If possible, prior to the appointment take notes about your dog’s daily routine and when you notice his pain levels are highest along with the activities he was doing during that time. This will help your veterinarian to have a better idea of when your dog is feeling the most pain and why. 

A physical examination will be performed, with your veterinarian paying close attention to the affected joints. Your veterinarian will want to observe your dog and see how he is walking and acting while standing. A complete blood count, urinalysis and biochemistry panel will also be done to rule out any other possible causes. 

Your veterinarian will also want to perform x-rays and an MRI to determine what damage has been done to the joints and if inflammation is present. Any underlying causes that may be occurring can also be identified. Once your veterinarian has diagnosed inflammation of the joints in your dog, treatment plans will be discussed.

Treatment of Inflammation of the Joints in Dogs

While inflammation of the joints in dogs cannot be reversed, the pain levels can be managed so your dog can live a relatively normal and pain free life. Unfortunately, if your dog is suffering from inflammation of the joints due to hip or elbow dysplasia or osteoarthritis, they will not live as long without complications as these conditions typically progress much more quickly. General arthritis can usually be managed effectively, giving your dog as much of a pain free life as possible. 


By encouraging exercises that limits the wear and tear on his joints and provides for good range of motion, the joints are getting exercise without being stressed too much. Leash walking, swimming, slow jogging or walking on a treadmill are good exercises for dogs suffering from inflammation of the joints.

Weight Management

Extra weight puts too much stress on your dog’s joints and can cause inflammation of the joints. If your dog is obese or even slightly overweight, you will need to put him on a lower calorie diet to get the excess weight off and the extra stress off of his joints. 

Comfortable Sleeping Areas

When your dog suffers from inflammation of the joints, he will hurt more when he is on hard surfaces. Provide him with a plush, comfortable bed to lie on when he sleeps. Orthopedic beds are the best solution for dogs with inflammation of the joints. Keep him warm to help the joints from becoming stiff. A sweater may also be helpful in the winter to keep him from getting chilled. 

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Anti-Inflammatory medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are most commonly given to dogs suffering from inflammation of the joints. Buffered aspirin is also used as an anti-inflammatory and to minimize pain. Corticosteroids have been used to reduce inflammation and help with pain. 


The most common supplements to help alleviate the pain associated with inflammation of the joints are glucosamine and chondroitin. Vitamin C is another supplement that can be used to help alleviate the effects of arthritis. Other supplements that can be given include S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) and Perna Mussels. 

Massage or Physical Therapy

Massage and physical therapy have been proven effective in helping alleviate the stiffness of the affected joints. Water therapy is very beneficial, especially for larger breeds. Moist heat has shown positive results in many cases of inflammation of the joints in dogs.

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Recovery of Inflammation of the Joints in Dogs

With medications and lifestyle changes, your dog can live comfortably with inflammation of the joints. Be sure to give any medications as directed by your veterinarian. If you have any questions regarding your dog’s medication, direct those to your veterinarian or their staff.

Inflammation of the Joints Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


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My pet has the following symptoms:
Swelling in my Australian Shepherd tail at the bottom near the body. She scratches her bottom on the chain fence we have. So we don’t know if she rubbed it raw or hurt it but when I try to look at it she gets away from me. When I did feel it it was soft and swollen you do notice it by looking at it. Any suggestion for at home remedies. Can’t afford Veterinarian Right now. She is wagging her tail good just doesn’t want it touched like when I go to brush her

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