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8 Facts About Canine Osteoarthritis and Inflammation That Might Surprise You

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As a pet parent, seeing your dog in pain is heart-wrenching. One common condition that affects many dogs is canine osteoarthritis (OA). Understanding what OA is and how it can impact your furry friend’s life is crucial in ensuring they receive the best care possible. 

Read on to learn some surprising facts about canine osteoarthritis and inflammation, and how to effectively manage your dog’s condition.

Canine Osteoarthritis and Inflammation: 8 Facts You Might Not Know

Canine osteoarthritis, often referred to as OA or simply arthritis, is a chronic joint condition. It is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage, the protective tissue that cushions the ends of bones. This degradation leads to pain, inflammation, and decreased mobility. While it is commonly associated with older dogs, OA can affect dogs of all ages.

Here are eight facts about canine OA and inflammation you might not know.

It’s more common than you think

Osteoarthritis is more common than many pet parents realize, affecting at least 1 in 3 dogs (1). This high prevalence underscores the importance of early detection and proactive management. Additionally, the prevalence of OA in dogs is increasing as dogs live longer and more and more dogs suffer from obesity.

It can start early in life

Although canine OA is typically considered an issue for older dogs, in actuality it often begins much earlier in life. Many dogs show canine osteoarthritis symptoms by middle age. In some cases, even younger dogs can develop OA due to genetic or developmental issues.

There is no cure

While there is no cure for OA, there are numerous strategies to manage the condition. These include canine osteoarthritis medications to control pain and inflammation, weight management, physical therapy, environmental modifications, and joint supplements. Regular veterinary checkups are crucial to tailor a management plan specific to your dog’s needs.

NSAIDs are the cornerstone of treatment

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for dogs (NSAIDs), such as Galliprant, are a cornerstone of canine osteoarthritis treatment. They help reduce inflammation and manage pain, significantly improving comfort and mobility for affected dogs. Traditional NSAIDs work by blocking certain enzymes that contribute to inflammation, thereby providing relief from the painful symptoms of OA. Galliprant works differently in that it controls canine OA pain and inflammation at the source by targeting a specific receptor.

Galliprant OA medication

It’s usually caused by abnormal joint development or joint injuries

OA in dogs is frequently caused by developmental disorders, such as abnormal development of the hip joint (hip dysplasia) and kneecap dislocation (luxating patella). Injuries such as ligament tears or trauma can also be to blame. These conditions can lead to improper joint function, altered mobility, and increased wear and tear over time, predisposing these dogs to osteoarthritis.

Obesity can increase the risk

Carrying excess weight significantly increases a dog’s risk of developing OA. Not only does the extra weight put more stress and strain on the joints, but also body fat can increase inflammation in dogs.

The signs can be easily missed

The symptoms of OA in dogs can be subtle and easily mistaken for normal aging. These include reduced activity, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, stiffness, muscle loss, and a noticeable change in the way a dog walks (gait). Being aware of these signs can help in early diagnosis. The sooner canine OA is recognized and addressed, the better pet parents will be able to manage it.

Limping can become more frequent as arthritis progresses 

Arthritis begins gradually and steadily worsens over time. However, symptoms can suddenly worsen due to strain or stress, resulting in a notable limp (lameness). In fact, canine osteoarthritis is the number one cause of lameness in dogs.

OA in Dogs: Tips & Advice

Caring for a dog with osteoarthritis requires vigilance, understanding, and a proactive approach. Recognizing the early signs of OA and consulting with your veterinarian can lead to effective management strategies that can greatly improve your dog’s quality of life.

Maintaining a healthy weight, ensuring regular exercise, and using dog arthritis medication, such as Galliprant, as prescribed are key components of managing OA. Remember, your veterinarian is your best partner in coming up with a comprehensive dog arthritis treatment plan tailored to your pet’s specific needs. 

By staying informed and engaged, you can help your canine companion lead a more comfortable and active life despite the challenges of osteoarthritis.


  1. Canine Arthritis Resources and Education. Retrieved from https://caninearthritis.org/