Arthritis, Dog And Exercise: A Guide

Symptoms of arthritis in dogs can be controlled with a combination of weight, exercise and medical management.

Exercising an osteoarthritic dog is a fine balance between too much and not enough! Regular low-impact exercise is the recommended option. Your veterinarian and your dog itself will let you know what is appropriate - each dog is different. General recommendations are:

  • Don't let your dog run and jump around too much - chasing balls isn't appropriate, as it could involve sudden turns which can tear delicate ligaments. Whilst your dog may enjoy it, he/she will be very sore afterwards.

  • If your dog tends to run when off the leash, you may need to start leash walking, so you can control the animal's speed.

  • Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise option - the water supports the dog's bodyweight, so there is less load for the joints to carry. The natural resistance of moving through water also inhibits sudden excessive movements.

  • Encourage your dog to warm up before and warm down after exercise - just as you yourself would do when visiting the gym.

  • If your dog isn't fit then start with short exercise sessions. However ensure the exercise is regular and frequent - 20-30 minutes of leash walking five days a week is a great way to start. A three-hour marathon once a week will do more harm than good - "little and often" is the motto! As your dog's fitness builds up, increase the duration of the walk.