Canine Arthritis Treatment Options

Riley began to slow down at an early age. From an active jumping puppy, several arthritic conditions caused her to age a little faster. Therefore, I have searched high and low for every method to help my fur baby have the best quality of life possible. When I took her to the vet their first response was to give her Rimadyl and pain medicine. After researching online, I read how horrible Rimadyl can be as a long term use. Riley just turned 4 years old; she has a long life ahead of her and I did not want to rely on medicine. I still give her pain medicine and we’re currently trying Adequan shots, but for the long run I wanted to find other options.

Here are some ways that I found to help Riley and that I hope will help with your dog as well. With any further questions it’s best to consult with a professional, such as your veterinarian. These are merely pieces of advice that I have gathered on my search to help with Riley’s arthritic conditions.

The first factors are to examine and help fix common lifestyle issues.


  • The extra pounds can severely impact and worsen arthritis by putting more pressure on their joints. So if you have a large breed dog, being slightly under weight or at the ideal recommended weight will have a huge impact on arthritic conditions.


  • Take a look at the ingredient section on the back of your commercial dog food. Nightshade vegetables such as potatoes can worsen arthritic symptoms. Therefore, it’s best to opt for a food option that is grain-free and does not contain nightshade products. Salmon-based food has worked great for us and I love it because of the Omega 3 found in fish. I also use Dinovite, and I cannot tell you how dramatic of a change I saw in Riley after just a short time. Just sprinkle some of the powder on top of your dogs food and drizzle some “Lick O Chops” as well-  they will gobble everything right up.

Warm and comfortable environment

  • Just as with human arthritis, cold weather can cause joints to stiffen and ache. Make sure your dog has a nice cozy environment. Personally, the biggest factor for me was a dog bed. I have probably gone through about four or five dog beds in four years. The most frustrating part was that no matter how fluffy and soft they looked, within a few months it was no better than a blanket on the floor. Have you noticed your dog grunt as they lay down in their bed or get up a little slower? It’s because the bed is so close to the ground that their joints hit the floor as they get on and off the bed. I’ve written a few posts about Big Barker already, and I will probably continue to rave about it – because it’s amazing. Yes, it cost a pretty penny but it would have been a lot less expensive if I had gotten this bed right off the bat instead of numerous beds that failed us.

This is a video I found that perfectly explains how beds affect a dogs joints:

If you’re interested in the Big Barker Dog Bed, here is my link.


Limit stairs and slick floors unless absolutely necessary. If you have slippery floors, maybe purchase a cute rug to put over top. When you’re on a walk and come to a flight of stairs as a quick route, perhaps opt to take the round-a-bout way instead.

Massages/ Stretches 

Here is a list of massage and stretching techniques that I received from a specialist after taking Riley for a consultation. The most important thing to remember is that this should never be painful or uncomfortable for your dog otherwise you’re probably doing the technique incorrectly, or your dog just isn’t comfortable with it. Personally, Riley’s favorite is the cookie stretch.

  • Iliopsoas massage

Frequency: Daily

Duration: 5 minutes

Position the dog comfortably (usually laying down) and be sure they are relaxed. The iliopsoas muscle may be very tight and the hip may need to be flexed to begin with. Later in the massage it may be stretched into extension as tolerated. Gently stroke and knead the iliopsas. This should NEVER be painful for the dog.

  • Hip massage

Frequency: Daily

Duration: 5 minutes

Position the dog comfortable (usually laying down) and be sure they are relaxed. Gently stroke and knead the muscles around the hip joint. This should NEVER be painful for the dog.

Cookie Stretch

Frequency: 1-2 times daily

Repetition: 10 times each side

Using a treat or your dogs favorite toy, move the object to encourage the dog to bend its head and neck toward their ribs. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds.

Step Stretch

Frequency: 1-2 times daily

Reputations: 5

Duration: 30 seconds

Tempo: 3-6 inches high

While sitting on the stairs in front of or standing beside your dog, have them place their front legs on the first of second step. The back legs should remain on the ground. Use treats/praise to keep your dog in this position for about 30 seconds.

Sit-To-Stand Stretch

Frequency: 5 times a week

Repetition: 5 reps

Using a treat or other cue, have your dog sit in a square position. Then have your dog push up to a standing position. Be certain that your dog sits and stand squarely and symmentically. Placing an affected leg against a wall or having them sit in a corner helps to encourage symmetrical sitting and standing.


Dog Swim
Riley absolutely LOVES the water


Swimming is such a great exercise for dogs because it provides a high-level workout while having fun playing in the water. The water creates a weightless environment that allows a dogs to freely move their joints that they normally wouldn’t get to stretch on a normal ground walk. The full range of motion of the swimming stroke allows tight, contracted muscles, tendons and ligaments to stretch and become flexible. Several conditions can benefit from swimming such as hip dysplasia, paralysis, disk and nerve damage, weight loss, etc. Not to mention that swimming can also build a dogs confidence and help maintain and strengthen muscle mass.


Holistic Treatment Options For Canine Arthritis
Riley during her first cold laser treatment.

Laser Therapy

By using specific light wavelengths, laser therapy creates a therapeutic effect with numerous benefits. From increased range of motion, reduction of swelling, inflammation, muscle spams and stiffness to pain alleviation. The energy from the laser draws water, oxygen and nutrients from the body to the specified damaged area and increases circulation. Some dogs see improvement after the first visit, but most dogs require at least 3-8 sessions to see the greatest benefit. Your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan specific to your pet’s condition. Very few side effects have been reported and there is little to no sensation during the treatment other than a warm tingling sensation. This technique has been used in Europe since the 1970’s and was cleared by the FDA in 2002.


Acupuncture stimulates cells and increases blood flow. It has been effective in treating soft tissue damage, reducing pain and inflammation as well as increasing cell growth. I’ve heard great reviews about acupuncture in both humans and dogs, but I cannot see Riley sitting still for this treatment.


What other holistic treatments have you found that help your dogs arthritis? I’m interested in learning about CBD oil and Reiki. If you’ve tried either of these or know of other options in general- let me know in the comments! As always, if you’ve enjoyed this post please feel free to share!

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