7 Common Signs Of Arthritis In Dogs 

Arthritis is a condition where joints become inflamed or painful. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which impacts both humans and animals. In dogs, arthritis usually occurs in older dogs, although younger dogs can also develop it.

There are seven main symptoms of arthritis in dogs, including joint stiffness, lameness, pain, swelling, redness, heat and reduced mobility. These symptoms can vary from dog to dog, depending on their age and breed.

7 Common Signs of Arthritis in Dogs

It’s important to know the signs of arthritis in dogs. While arthritis cannot be cured, it can be managed, so it is not painful for the dog. 

If you want to learn more about the 7 common signs of arthritis in dogs, then keep reading. 

The 7 Common Signs Of Arthritis In Dogs 

Reluctance to Move

Dogs who have arthritis will often show reluctance to move around. They may seem stiff when attempting to walk or run. This could indicate arthritis, which causes inflammation in the joints.

A common sign of arthritis is that a dog will be reluctant to do activities that the dog could once do with ease. 

An example of this is a dog who used to walk up the stairs with no issue, but now avoids, or struggles to walk upstairs. Another example could be a dog who used to love running around, but now is reluctant to run and play.

If you notice these signs of your dog, you should go to a vet. This could be a sign that the dog is in pain, and is suffering from arthritis, which is making their joints sore.


Another sign of arthritis in dogs is tiredness. Some dogs who suffer from arthritis will appear lethargic and lacking in energy. A dog who has arthritis will look weak and exhausted, even if they are eating well.

You might notice that your dog seems tired all the time, or is sleeping more than usual. If you see this happening, you should take your dog to a vet as soon as possible.

It could also be that after a walk, the dog needs a lot more rest than he, or she, previously required. While this is also common with age, it’s important to check with a vet. 

Limping/ Lameness

When a dog suffers from arthritis, one of the first things that you may notice is a limp.

As the dog walks, his legs will feel sore and painful. 

You may notice that your dog is putting more weight on one leg, over and over. 

It could also be that the dog avoids putting pressure on one leg, which shows a clear limp. 

Some dogs may experience lameness in both of their hind legs, this is especially true if the spine is affected by arthritis. 

Likewise, some dogs will only experience limps at certain times, whereas others will always limp. It’s best to visit a vet if you notice your dog limping regularly.

7 Common Signs of Arthritis in Dogs


Irritability is another symptom of arthritis in dogs. When a dog suffers from arthritis, there will be increased levels of stress.

No one is happy when they are in pain, especially when they can’t properly communicate that pain. 

It’s very common for a dog to become irritable when they are suffering from arthritis. It may mean that the dog snaps, or the dog wants to be left alone. 

Furthermore, it’s also common for a dog to not want to be touched. You should not touch a dog, when they have clearly shown they do not want to be touched.

A dog could easily snap, or bite, someone. This is because the dog is trying to communicate that the area is in pain. 

Always take a dog to the vets if he, or she, has become irritable. This is extra important if a dog does not like a certain area of their body to be touched. 

Muscle Atrophy

Dogs tend to lose muscle mass as they get older. But, if a dog has arthritis, they lose muscle mass faster.

As a result, a dog with arthritis will often appear thinner than normal.

Usually, the dog will only appear thinner in the area where arthritis is present. This could mean that only one leg is thinner, or two legs are thinner, and so forth. 

If a dog is looking thinner, especially in certain areas of their body, check with your vet. 

Licking, Chewing, & Biting

A dog who has arthritis will typically lick, chew, or bite at themselves. 

This is because the dog is uncomfortable, and is trying to reduce the amount of pain. The dog will typically lick, chew, or bite the area that is uncomfortable. 

Another reason could be because the dog feels extremely uncomfortable and is trying to comfort itself. 

If you notice that your dog is chewing, biting, or licking areas of its body more frequently, you should consult a vet. This may not be a sign of arthritis. The dog may have a skin problem, or possibly an anxiety problem. 

Yelping when Touched

Yelping when a dog is touched is a common symptom of arthritis. 

If a dog starts yelping after being touched, then it may indicate that the dog is experiencing discomfort.

The dog is likely to yelp if the area that was touched hurts. For example, if you touch your dog’s leg, and the dog starts to yelp in pain, that is a clear sign that something is wrong. 

This can be a sign of arthritis, but it could also be a sign of a pulled muscle, or another issue with the muscle, or bone. 

Contact a vet immediately if you notice a dog yelping after being touched. 


Arthritis is a very painful condition that affects both dogs, and humans. If you notice any of these seven symptoms, then contact your vet right away.

They will be able to conduct a full exam on your pet and determine whether it is arthritis.

Megan Turner