How to manage arthritis flare ups in dogs

Light colored dog

Dogs with arthritis can have good days and bad days, much like their human counterparts, and with any chronic condition there may be days where your dog experiences a flare up (sudden re-appearance of their symptoms) and these need to be managed to keep your dog as comfortable as possible.

What does an arthritis flare up look like?

As our dogs can’t communicate to us with words and can hide signs of pain and discomfort, it is important that we can recognise when they may be experiencing a flare of symptoms.

Symptoms of dog arthritis to look for include:

What can I do?

The first thing to do if you notice any of these signs of an arthritis flare up, or anything that concerns you with your dog, is to contact your vet. They will be able to advise you and examine your dog if necessary and will prescribe appropriate medication as required.

Ensure they have a comfortable and accessible place to rest. Bedding should be supportive; all dogs appreciate a comfortable bed, but it is a must have for those with arthritis. Check how springy it is by placing your hand on it and pressing down as this will mimic your dog lying on it and gives a good idea of how it responds to weight bearing.

If your dog is experiencing an arthritis flare up, rest them for a few days until it settles down. This may mean just pottering around the garden so your dog can choose their level of activity. When you do start reintroducing exercise, build this back up to their normal levels gradually to ensure they are able to cope with this.

In summary, arthritis flare ups are not an uncommon occurrence, but like a chronic condition of any kind, we do want to minimise them as much as possible. This includes paying attention to exercise levels, not over-exerting your dog and ensuring they receive their prescribed medication at the correct dose and the correct times. When flare ups do occur, the tips mentioned in this article can help, but remember that your vet should remain your first port of call for advice.