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Non-Surgical Options for Arthritis in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015


Fortunately, there are many non-surgical treatment options to address arthritis in dogs. These can be used to treat mild, moderate and even severe cases of arthritis. Available options include oral supplements which support joint health, weight management, acupuncture, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and corticosteroidal therapies.

Non-Surgical Options for Arthritis in Dogs

Massage Therapy

Therapeutic massage can help detect, alleviate, and prevent conditions that can keep your pet from enjoying the freedom of movement they're supposed to have. It can help restore and improve range of motion, agility and comfort, increasing quality of life. It can help your pet live and age well, and move through their life with the ease and joy they deserve.


Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate supplements, and omega fatty acids supplements, not only can support joint health but also can help repair damaged joint tissues. You should speak with your veterinarian about using these supplements if your dog has arthritis. Normally, for affected dogs, these are given daily for life. It can take several weeks for the results of these supplements to be seen. Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and omega fatty acid supplements are very easy on a dog’s stomach, and they cause little to no side effects. These supplements currently are not regulated, so pet owners should consult with their veterinarian about which, if any, of these supplements are appropriate for their dog.

Weight Management

Weight management is also an important component of non-surgical treatment for arthritis in dogs. Overweight dogs suffer more consequences of arthritis than do more fit dogs. Maintaining a dog at its ideal weight will help to reduce the severity of signs of arthritis, and can slow the progression of the disease.


Acupuncture has been used for many years to relive the symptoms of arthritis in dogs, but it has only recently become accessible in the United States. Many veterinarians now offer, or can recommend, acupuncture therapies. The number of treatments needed depend upon the severity of the underlying disease. Mild cases can be treated with bi-weekly or weekly therapy, whereas severe cases may require treatments every two to three days.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are available in liquid or tasty tablet forms for our companion animals. Dogs with extremely severe arthritis may be helped by a daily dosage of NSAIDs, although these drugs can have side effects which include vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. Dogs that are on continual NSAID therapy should have their kidneys and liver levels monitored at least once a year, and preferably more frequently.

Steroid Therapies

Steroid therapies also are used to manage arthritis in dogs. These include oral and injectable medications that can reduce the swelling and inflammation caused by arthritis. These drugs are usually only used as a last resort, because they can cause severe side effects and can contribute to diabetes, liver failure and kidney failure.

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