Causes of Arthritis In Dogs
Some of the causes may surprise you

There are several potential causes of arthritis in dogs as well as joint disease, and most all dogs will develop some type of joint problem during their life time.

In some cases in may be so mild that you will have no idea at all that your dog has a problem.

However, in other cases it can be severely debilitating and can have a huge impact on your dog’s quality of life.

It the most severe forms, it will cause a complete lameness to occur in your dog and you will have to make some very tough decisions.

In most of the cases, the arthritis or joint pain will fall somewhere in between the two extremes.

Although it is true that a larger breed is much more vulnerable to this condition, in can and does occur in all breeds and sizes, and can affect your dog at any age.


Arthritis or joint pain in your dog will show you some very distinct symptoms.

Even if it is a very mild form watching for these symptoms and catching them early will go a long way in managing this very painful condition.

One of the first signs will be muscle atrophy which is the wasting or loss of muscle tissue from either a disease or the lack of use.

One of the largest causes of arthritis in dogs is the lack of exercise, as exercise is critical to the overall health of any dog.

The next symptom is not one that you may see, but rather one that you will hear, and is referred to as crepitation.

If your dog is not getting the proper exercise, you may see them start to limp, and their joints will begin to swell slightly.

If this does happen, move their joints very carefully and listen for the crepitation.

You will hear a very dry cracking sound and this is the noise that is being produced by bones or irregular cartilage surfaces that are rubbing together as this is one of, if not the leading, causes of arthritis in dogs

If all of these symptoms occur and they are not managed, it may develop into the final symptom, which is lameness.

The lameness at first may just be temporary, but if it is not treated it can very easily become permanent.


There are several potential causes of arthritis in dogs, and owners may be familiar with many of them, but there are some causes that you may not be aware of.

The first potential causes are a fracture of your dog’s joint that is almost always the result of muscle atrophy.

However, it can also be the result of a ligament, a tendon, or a muscle disease, with the most common form being a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

German ShephardsThe list of the causes of arthritis in dogs is extensive


This is the most common knee injury in any dog, and one of the leading causes, regardless of their size.

In fact, the chances are about 10 to 1 that if your dog has a very sudden rear leg lameness, this ligament has been ruptured. This is very easy to identify if you understand what to watch for.

Your dog’s leg will become so sore, that they will hardly be able to walk on it.

If it is left untreated, your dog’s leg will improve usually in a few days, but their knee will be swollen and this allows the arthritis to start to develop.

The next condition of potential causes of arthritis in dogs will be in the form of a developmental disorder, such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or Legg-Perthes disease.

Hip and elbow dysplasia is primarily found in large dog breeds and if you have a large breed or are going to adopt one, you should become familiar with this.

The chances are very high that your dog will get it usually in the mid to later parts of their life.

The actual term itself means an abnormal growth of either the hip or the elbow, and usually occurs during the growing puppy stages.

Hip dysplasia is essentially where the ball and the socket do not fit properly making it another of the potential causes of arthritis in dogs

Elbow dysplasia is the most common cause of front leg lameness in these same large breeds.

It can occur in different forms, most commonly UAP, where it is fragmented, FMCP, where cracks form in the articular cartilage or the underlying bone.

Both of these conditions will eventually lead to secondary problems, as they produce loose pieces of bones and cartilage.

Legg-Perthes disease affects young, small breeds, and occurs when there is an interruption of the blood supply to your dog’s head of the femur.

This is in the ball portion of the hips ball and socket joint and is one of the major causes of arthritis in dogs.

The next set of potential causes of arthritis in dogs is from congenital disorders such as Wobblers syndrome or a luxated patella.

Wobblers syndrome is a disease of the nervous system in your dog that is caused by pressure on the spinal cord in the neck as the result of the malformation of the vertebrae or where it does not come together properly.

When your dog’s patella luxates from the groove of the femur, it does not return properly to a normal position until the muscles relax.

Once relaxed, it will return to normal, however, each time this happens it increases the chances of arthritis developing.

However, what is not well known are some of the other potential causes of arthritis in dogs, which include dietary of hormonal disease.

If your dog is obese, they have a much greater chance, regardless of their breed, of developing a joint problem.

Hyperparathyroidism is one of the silent causes of any type of arthritis or joint problems.

This is a condition in which your dog’s parathyroid glands, not their thyroid glands, produce too much parathyroid hormone, making it yet another of the potential causes of arthritis in dogs.

This hormone is critical in keeping the correct balance of calcium and phosphorus in your pet’s blood.

If the blood calcium becomes too low, this hormone level increases, which takes calcium out of your dog’s bones.

It does this in order to maintain the correct levels in the blood and other tissues, but the result can be catastrophic to your dog’s bones and open the doors very quickly for both arthritis as well as joint damages.

But the list of potential causes of arthritis in dogs does not end there.

It may also be caused by a metabolic disorder such as von Willebrands disease as well as cancer, osteoarthritis, or from an inflammation disease.

Inflammation diseases include Lyme disease which is one of the fastest growing diseases in dogs, as well as rheumatoid arthritis are also potential causes of arthritis in dogs.

Arthritis may also be caused by a degenerative spinal joint disease, most commonly an inter-vertebral disc disease.


There are several potential causes of arthritis in dogs, and understanding the symptoms and then reacting to them as quickly as you can and seeking veterinarian advice, the longer your pet will enjoy a normal life.

Even if the signs are very minor at first, it is important to understand that with most dogs it is not a matter of if they will develop joint problems, but when.

Pet Medications for the Causes of Arthritis In Dogs

Dog Vitamin Store

More About Bone, Joint, and Other Challenges in Dogs:

Back & Neck Pain

Is most commonly associated with some type of a discomfort that your dog is experiencing along their spine.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

Is best described as arthritis in your dog’s joint between their last lumbar vertebra and their sacrum.

Managing Arthritis

The first step will come in the form of therapy and basic lifestyle management with the most important being weight management.

Intervertebral Disks

It is very helpful for any owner to understand some basics on how a dog’s spine is made up.

OCD in Dogs

It is similar to Osteocondrosis and is considered to be the result or a by product of this very serious joint disease.

Patellar Luxation

Grading on a scale of one to four is used to help in the understanding of the severity of this condition.


This term is no longer used in most medical or technical literature, but is still used in everyday language as well as most historical texts.