Tips for Helping Old Dog with Arthritis

Updated on August 28, 2013
S.C. asks from Geneva, IL
12 answers


My 12-year-old pup has pretty bad arthritis and has been having a really hard week.

I took him to the vet and the best they could do was tell me to give him some baby aspirin. Ugh! That is not touching it!

I have been giving him one in the morning and one at night (this is the max dose for his size) and also have been giving him 1/4 of a doggie Xanax to help him relax a bit. This is not a good long term option. He is basically drugged and out of it.

Any tips on better options?

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So What Happened?

Thanks! I just should have been more assertive when I was there. He had been so uncomfortable the night before and then when I was there he seemed fine, so I think the vet thought I was exaggerating. He was fine for 24 hours and now he's back to miserable. I feel so bad! I am looking into chiropractic care and will call about additional medication for him. We lost his brother in December, so I'm not ready to lose him. :(

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answers from Los Angeles on

ETA: BTW, Daily regular, moderate exercise for him. Dont let him "overdo" it on his good days!!!

Definitely look into the Rimadyl.
Get him a bed made for arthritic dogs.
Get elevated food bowls so he doesn't need to reach down to the floor to eat & drink.
There are ramps you can get to make getting into & out of the car.
If you don't already, start using a safety seat belt harness in the car so he's not knocked around/thrown forward.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Phoenix on

There are better pain meds out there for dogs than aspirin. Ask your vet about Rimadyl or something similar. One of our dogs used to get pretty bad stiffness due to hip dysplasia when he got older, mostly when it was cold out. We gave him daily glucosamine/chondroitin and the Rimadyl on days when he was showing signs of hurting.
I hope your pup feels better, it's rough to watch them hurting!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We give our dog Dr. Foster and Smith Joint and support care premium plus. They are soft chewables for dogs that smell like bacon. She really likes them and they work. She doesn't hobble around anymore.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Aspirin is NOT good to give dogs long term, very hard on their GI system. One of our geriatric pups ended up with a bleeding ulcer from giving it (at our then-vet's advice)

She was a cute little mutt (American purebred) & suffered from arthritis in her back & hip dysplasia. We wanted her to be as comfortable as possible, & working with our vet, decided on a regimen of Tramadol (brand name Ultram)

It is a strong analgesic drug (pain reliever, not anti-inflammatory) & it helped us get another 2 years with our S. girl

You need to be more assertive for your dog when you talk to the vet. Do some research online & come prepared with possible medications & treatments, & ask to discuss the pros & cons.

In addition to the drug I mentioned above, there are anti-inflammatory meds (Rimadyl) and more holistic treatments (cold-laser therapy does wonders for arthritis).

If your vet is not willing to work with you on different, more beneficial treatments, then be prepared to walk. Your dog is depending on you to be his voice. Good luck. T.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'm so sorry your poor pupster is uncomfortable! We went through this with our black lab so I totally understand how you feel. Our vet is also an acupuncturist; we found acupuncture to be very, very helpful for over a year in managing our boy's arthritis pain. Additionally, we tried omega-3s. Once that was not longer working, first Tramadol and then Rimadyl were helpful.

If you like your vet, perhaps you could ask if either of these medications would be helpful for your dog. I know my vet prefers not to use Rimadyl unless no other drugs will work. It's been while, but as I recall his concern is about the impact of Rimadyl on the dog's liver (at least, I think it's the liver, maybe kidney trouble? I don't remember).

Another option would be to seek out another vet in your area.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If your vet does referral to dog physical therapy, we really benefitted from usage of Patti Triola's "Dogs in Motion" dog physical therapy.
###-###-#### or email to
You will want to look at her web site at
I'm not sure if you are in her service area but this gives you a different idea.
Patti helped our daughter's chihuahua significantly when he suddenly was not able to walk on two of his four legs. He earlier had Rimadyl for arthritis and knee issues...and now all his legs work again and at last vet checkup his knees are SO much better that he doesn't need any medications or intervention for his knees where he was earlier possibly going to have knee surgery. He is not supposed to be jumping but try telling that to a chihuahua...Patti personally designed and taught me rehab exercises for the chihuahua to resolve his conditions.



answers from Detroit on

there is a doggie supplement made out of whey..(milk protein) my friends dog was hurting.. and they started the supplement.. and the dog is good as new.

there are other options.. dogs can take advil too.. (big dogs can take 1 200 mg)

but make suer they eat with the advil.



answers from Los Angeles on

We gave our dogs Glucosomine when they were old & started to experience arthritis.
We used the one for people & cut the pill in half & gave a 1/2 a pill dose
a day. They are huge pill so I would then cut that half in half again & hide it in a piece of lunchmeat.
I've taken it too at different times for joint pain. Here's the only
lasts so long.
Aspirin doesn't seem like it's going to do anything but address the pain so
at least you are addressing that part.
I wouldn't take your dog for walks anymore (too painful). Maybe just a
"fake walk" to the end of the driveway or mailbox.
Call another vet & ask if "hydro therapy" would work. Holding the pooch in a pool so they use their legs as if swimming but there's not stress on the joints as they don't have to support their body weight.
Best of luck to your doggie.
I wish you the best



answers from Raleigh on

I give my 13 year old arthritic dog a fish oil caplet and a glucosamine supplement each night. He was on a strong narcotic prescribed by the vet, and it was just no way of life for him. These two supplements have really helped and he seems to still have a little spring in his step.


answers from Kalamazoo on

My last old pup was on Glucosamine (sp?) with chondrodin (again, sp?) for the last year or two of his life to help with arthritis. It really helped him at first. Towards the end, only pain pills would help, but try some actually arthritis therapy first! They treat it just like they do in people!


answers from Chicago on

My fiancé takes fish oil for his arthritis (psoriasis related) and our dog's breed is prone to it and the vet said if we begin to see signs it may be a good idea to add it to his diet.

I think maybe if your vet is not getting you the help you think is adequate then you should see another vet. I KNOW there is help out there for arthritic dogs and I do not think you have the right vet for this issue. Did you know that there is swimming therapy and other medications available?



answers from Macon on

I agree with Kristina - sounds like it's time for a new vet.

Some of our family members have had success taking their dogs to aquatic treadmill therapy (Google for a place in your area that offers it). It's expensive, but if you can afford it, it really can make a big difference.

Be sure also that your dog is not carrying extra weight, which puts unnecessary stress on the joints.

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