Sunday, April 14, 2024

How To Help Dogs With Arthritis In Back Legs

What Are The Symptoms Of Weak Hind Legs

Dog Acupressure for Knee Arthritis : Dog Massage for Knee Arthritis: Legs

Symptoms of hind leg weakness could appear immediately or develop over time, depending on the root cause. So keep an eye on your pets physical condition and behavior as it could point to other signs of dog back leg weakness.

If your pets hind legs get weak, watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Less muscle mass

Your dog could even go off-balance, walk slowly, hesitate to move, or stop peeing if they have weak back legs.

Are There Other Signs Of Oa Besides Difficulty Getting Up And Down

Dogs can exhibit many different signs when they have OA, and they do not necessarily demonstrate all the same signs all the time. The most common signs dog owners may notice include:

  • Difficulty getting up and down
  • Walking stiffly
  • Lameness in one or more legs
  • Reluctance to go up and/or down stairs
  • Reluctance to jump up or down
  • Stiff, swollen, or sore joints
  • Reluctance to be touched on some parts of the body
  • Loss of stamina
  • Unexpected aggression towards other dogs or towards humans

How Can My Dog Develop Arthritis

There are many reasons that a dog can get arthritis, including external factors like the quality of their diet, how much exercise theyre getting, breed, injury, and their age.

  • Joint injuries. If a joint gets injured by a torn ligament or an infected wound, for example, then damage can occur inside the joint. This sets off a vicious circle of inflammation which can result in arthritis in an otherwise healthy joint.
  • Being overweight. If your dog has been overweight, their joints have to cope with the extra load, which, over time, can cause increased wear and tear on the joints.
  • Old age. As arthritis may be caused by wear and tear, older dogs may get arthritis even if they have always been slim, fit and healthy. Whilst this may be seen as a normal part of ageing, it doesnt mean that we shouldnt treat it to prevent it from getting worse over time.

Also Check: What Can I Take For Arthritis Pain

A Supplement A Day Keeps The Joint Pain Away

Before we start discussing joint supplements for dogs, we need to briefly review some relevant joint anatomy. When bones come together to form a joint, the ends are covered with a layer of cartilage. This cartilage acts as a shock absorber and helps the bones glide smoothly against each other when the joint moves.

As your dog ages or joint mechanics change due to an injury, the cartilage becomes worn. Over time this degenerative process will lead to arthritis. Now bone is rubbing on bone, the once cushy cartilage has become thin, causing the joint to become inflamed and painful.

What is the best joint supplement for dogs?

A variety of compounds have proven useful for addressing arthritic changes from different angles:

  • Glucosamine and chondroitinsulfate Glycosaminoglycans are the building blocks of healthy cartilage, making them one of the most popular joint supplement ingredients.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane This compound helps form new cartilage and can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Turmeric/curcumin More commonly used as a human supplement, turmeric/curcumin shows promise in reducing pain and inflammation in dogs with arthritis.
  • Hyaluronic acid This type of GAG is a major component of joint fluid and helps make cartilage more resistant to wear and tear.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids Anti-inflammatory properties are one of the benefits of Omega-3s for dogs that make them useful for managing arthritis pain.

My favorite joint supplement for dogs with arthritis

Tips & Products To Help Your Aging Or Arthritic Dog

Help! Old Dog Back Legs Collapsing

These tips and products listed below have helped to improve the comfort level, quality of life, and ability to get around for many older and arthritic dogs. Have a look and try them out you may well be surprised at just how peppy your old dog becomes!

You may notice that I dont mention medications in this article. Its not because they aren’t important and helpful, because they are often very important and helpful. Ive done this because medications arent the only important and helpful components to helping older dogs with their pain and mobility issues.

You can read more about what supplements and medications can be helpful with arthritis and joint pain here. The simple, yet safe and effective, tips and products I mention below arent well-known and all too often overlooked. For the benefit of all aging and arthritic dogs, that needs to change.

Read Also: When Does Psoriatic Arthritis Start

Arthritis In Your Dogs Back Leg

If your dogs showing signs of arthritis, then it is likely to be affecting their back legs. The back legs are the most common place for a dog to contract the condition because of the amount of pressure they put their back legs under. The initial effort for running and jumping for a dog is done with their back legs this pressure can cause a breakdown of the cartilage in the joint over time and eventually cause arthritis. As this breakdown of cartilage occurs, your dog will experience pain and swelling in and around the joint. As this gets worse, your dog may experience debilitating bouts of pain that may mean they struggle to do anything at all.

How To Help A Dog With Arthritis At Home

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If youre like me, youre always looking for a new way or the best way to help treat your dogs arthritis so they are pain-free and as mobile as possible. All of these suggestions come from my TRUE experience helping dogs with arthritis at home.

These are 20 things that help a dog with arthritis at home. The first 10 are either completely free or just require a few supplies at the grocery store. The 2nd group of 10 are products that greatly assist you or your dog when dealing with arthritis around the home.

Well start with the 10 free ways to help:

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Symptoms Of Arthritis In Dogs

Although your pet may seem fine in themselves, eating normally and interesting in going out for walks there are several symptoms of arthritis in dogs to be aware of. Its important to take note of any changes, even if they dont seem to be linked to having sore legs.

  • Limping before and after walks. Your dog may limp if only one leg is affected, but if more than one joint is affected, your dog may not have an obvious limp.
  • Tiredness and showing an unwillingness to get up or walk around. Your dog may seem a bit stiff in the morning, or they cant get comfortable when lying down.
  • Licking or chewing painful areas
  • Signs of pain when standing, walking, or sitting up or down
  • Behavioural changes. Your dogs behaviour may change and seem a bit grumpy if being cuddled or touched too much.
  • Slowing down. Your dog may seem to have got old suddenly and tired quickly.

If you notice your dog is suffering from any of the above symptoms, visit your nearest vet right away who will be able to provide an expert and informed diagnosis:

Invest In Physical Therapy For Dogs

How to Massage a Dog’s Back Legs

Pet owners can also work with veterinarians to identify physical therapy routines that are meant for dogs with arthritis. While it might sound counterintuitive to have dogs exercise when their joints are in pain, controlled exercise is critical. This exercise is important because it will strengthen the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in and around the joints.

The stronger these tissues are, the less work the bones are going to have to do. This means that the joints will be given an opportunity to rest and heal. When possible, try to ensure that dogs are playing on a solid surface. This will reduce the chances of pets suffering an injury while walking, running, or playing.

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Keep Dog Nails Trimmed

Nails that impact a dogs mobility can be heard. If you hear clicking when your dog walks, its time to cut her nails or have them done. One rogue toenail is enough to make your dog distribute her weight in a way that aggravates her arthritis.

To verify your dogs nail length is not aggravating her arthritis, make sure you can slip a piece of paper between her nail and the floor when shes standing. For a refresher on how to trim nails see this article: Senior Dog Nail Trimming.

Turn On A Tv Or Radio When You Leave

If your dog is arthritic and having real mobility issues it might be beneficial to leave a tv or radio on when you leave. This helps drown out incidental noise such as children playing outside or other dogs barking, or the mail being delivered all which make your dog: leap into action.

At a certain point and as arthritis progresses, these extra precautions help keep your dog from injuring herself further while youre not home.

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How Does Arthritis Impact A Dogs Quality Of Life

Arthritis has the ability to impact a dogs comfort and happiness each day.

Arthritis may not be considered life threatening in itself, but the pain and mobility issues that come along with the condition can be.

The impact of canine arthritis leads many owners to make a quality of life decision, showing just how important it is to manage this condition early on.

The joint deterioration that occurs in canine arthritis is challenging to get ahead of when it is not diagnosed early on, leading to a vicious cycle of discomfort for our aging canine friends.

Dogs with joint disease may shy away from activities they once loved, find difficulty getting up each morning, and even struggle to find the happy demeanor they once sported.

Having an understanding of this degenerative joint condition is essential for offering your pup a long and happy life.

If you would like an in depth review on the many aspects of canine arthritis, you can head over to for their arthritis awareness week.

Physical And Alternative Therapy To Treat Arthritis In Dogs

Extended Hock Joint Support for Dogs Rear Leg

In addition to diet, supplements, and medications, there are also therapy treatment options available to help manage a dogs arthritis pain. Physical therapy, like appropriate forms of regular exercise, as mentioned earlier can be extremely beneficial for dogs with arthritis. Many owners also find hydrotherapy, or water therapy, helpful.

Holistic therapies, like acupuncture, can be useful as well. Acupressure and targeted pulsed electromagnetic field therapy are other alternative options that may be useful for the treatment of arthritis in dogs.

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Other Potential Causes Of Dog Limping In Back Legs:

Limping in back legs doesnt always mean arthritis is to blame, some other potential causes to consider include:

Check your dogs paw pads for thorns, glass, sticks, or other foreign objects or issues that could cause pain, discomfort and limping.

Tick bites can cause Lyme disease, which is known to cause joint pain and limping. A tick preventative is crucial, especially for active hunting dogs that spend a lot of time in rural and rugged areas where ticks congregate.

Its rare, but certain bone diseases like hypertrophic osteodystrophy and panosteitis can impact large breed puppies and cause pain and limping when walking.

  • Injury or trauma

Was your dog recently injured or involved in an accident? If the cause of the limp is injury related, make sure your dog gets plenty of rest before returning to normal activity. The issue could relate to a fracture, sprain, dislocation, ligament tear, joint trauma, or broken bone. You may need to visit your vet for appropriate treatment.

How To Safely Lift A Dog With Arthritis

Moving around with your canine friend can be fun. However, the fun can be cut short if your canine friend is diagnosed with a degenerative disease such as arthritis. Since arthritis primarily interferes with the mobility of dogs, you will be forced to learn how to care for and live with your dog under the new circumstances. While pre-arthritic disease diagnoses your canine friend could just jump into the car, in post-arthritic disease diagnostic you will have to help your dog into your car or even when taking stairs.

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What Does Exercise Modification Look Like

The best recommendation for dogs with arthritis is exercise modification. This means dogs SHOULD exercise, in fact, they should ideally do something every single day rather than be weekend warriors.

The ideal exercise program for dogs with arthritis is one that is regular, low-impact, and controlled.

Regular exercise means your dog is going for walks mostdays, rather than doing one big activity at the end of the week.

A study by Greene LM, et al in 20213 found that dogs with hip arthritis that exercised for > 60 minutes/ day had lower lameness scores than dogs that exercised < 20 minutes/day. Interestingly, in this same study, the administration of NSAIDs or chondroprotective agents was not associated with improved lameness scores. This supports the recommendation of an active lifestyle for dogs with hip dysplasia and arthritis. Similar studies have not yet been published for other forms of canine arthritis.

The type of exercise the dog is participating is important. This is where low-impact and controlled come in. To best describe this recommendation, we turn to physics .

Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis

Easy DIY Dog Arthritis Massage at Home – Marc Smith DVM

Spinal arthritis in dogs causes generalized body stiffness, affecting your pets mobility, range of motion, and agility.

Back pain is the primary symptom of spinal arthritis, but it is not the only one. Dogs with spinal degenerative joint disease develop bone spurs and joint swelling.

The dogs decreased mobility and reluctance to exercise are evident symptoms, but more often than not, the dog owner assumes they are due to old age.

Plus, the owner may be unaware of his dogs arthritic changes during the early phases because dogs are very good at hiding pain and discomfort.

Not all plus 10-year old dogs will develop spinal arthritis. However, when the dogs signs and symptoms include back pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion, and stamina, spinal arthritis is a very possible diagnosis.

To determine whether your dog has arthritis or its changes can be attributed to old age, you need to explain the situation to your vet thoroughly.

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What Can You Do To Help

When you see something that isnt quite right with your dog, you should get them to the vet. Tell the vet about the symptoms that you have noticed and anything else that you think will help the vet. The vet will run some tests and examine any noticeable problem areas. After this, they will provide a diagnosis.

If the diagnosis comes back as arthritis, you will have a lot of options for treatment. Your vet may first suggest some NSAIDs to help your dog cope with the pain and stiffness in their back legs. From there, they may recommend that you put your dog on a new diet and exercise regime. This diet will consist of fresh veg and supplements and the exercise regime may include hydrotherapy. The idea behind this treatment for arthritis is to build up the muscles surrounding the joint to take the pressure off and for your dog to lose any excess weight to further relieve the pressure on the joint. This treatment alone can be enough for most dogs to cope with the condition and live a long and pain-free life.

These are just a few of the treatment options available to a dog with arthritis in their back legs. There are a lot more available to them, but we have found these to be the best. They are completely natural and work very well for relieving most of the symptoms of arthritis.

Common Causes Of Back Leg Weakness In Older Dogs


Arthritis is stiffness in the joints that can affect the hind legs and cause weakness. Older dogs are especially at risk. As a dog ages, the cartilage between the joints may deteriorate, which can cause inflammation and pain. The condition may become what is known as Degenerative Joint Disease, which is the canine version of osteoarthritis. If your dogs back legs are collapsing, look for these additional signs that may indicate osteoarthritis:

  • Difficulty getting up

Learn more about Dog Hip Dysplasia.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is a genetic and incurable neurodegenerative disease marked by deterioration and loss of function of the nervous system, especially the neurons in the brain. Onset typically occurs when dogs reach about eight years of age. The most notable symptom differentiating DM from the other potential causes for old dogs back legs collapsing is that the dog will experience NO PAIN. Additionally, be on the lookout for:

  • Back legs dragging

Learn more about Degenerative Myelopathy.


Dogs, like people, may experience weight gain as they get older. If weight gain is the cause of back leg collapse in your older dog, youre in luck its the easiest to remedy. Be sure your older dog gets plenty of exercise and maintains a healthy diet. Older dogs do not require as much food as younger dogs. Also, consider foods with lower fat content.

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A Simple Formula For How To Reduce Impact

Reduce Mass

A simple formula from physics states that Force = Mass x Acceleration. We want to reduce the Force on dogs arthritic joints, so we do that by decreasing Mass and Acceleration.

For example, if a dog is exercising in an underwater treadmill with the water at the level of the hip, the joints have 38% less weight on them then they do on land. .

If the water level is lower, the effective reduction in body weight will be less. Swimming and underwater treadmill therapy are great, low-impact ways for dogs with arthritis to exercise. This kind of exercise also helps them gain muscular and cardiovascular strength and improve limb range of motion.

The other important way to decrease Force on the joints is by decreasing Acceleration. Without getting into more physics, this is essentially how quickly force is applied to a joint.

Examples of High Acceleration are running and jumping . The magnitude of force to the joints is increased exponentially with high-impact activities. If your dog has arthritis, try to discourage them from running and jumping.

Control is key

However, some dogs live for the dog park, to chase balls, or run in the snow. To take away their favorite form of activity may decrease their quality of life, even if it is the best medical recommendation for their arthritis.

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