Anti-Inflammatory Medications for Joint Stiffness in Dogs

As pets age they tend to develop signs of arthritis like joint stiffness, an inability to climb stairs, painful or swollen joints and discomfort. While joint stiffness is not a condition in itself, it's a symptom of some underlying joint or bone disorder. In order to help pet’s suffering from joint stiffness and pain, pet owners will have to conduct a vet check to diagnose the underlying problem. Once this underlying problem is treated, the symptoms like joint stiffness, swollen joints and pain will subside.

Treatment Options

The treatment varies according to the type and severity of bone or joint problem present. Some pets require surgical intervention and partial bone or joint replacement, while others can be treated with medication. Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications are widely prescribed by all vets, to bring relief from the pain and discomfort caused by joint diseases.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID’s) medications are commonly administered to dogs suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia or pets recovering from surgeries. Although these NSAID’s are very effective in most pets, they do have their own side effects. These drugs should be administered exactly according to vet instructions and any side-effects that are noticed should be brought to the vet’s attention.

Commercially Available Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

  • Rimadyl
  • Etodolac
  • Metacam
  • Phenylbutazone
  • Adequan


This drug reduces pain and discomfort in pets that have undergone surgeries and dogs suffering from arthritis or bone degenerative diseases. Rimadyl is a prescription drug and isn’t ideal as a long term solution for joint pain and arthritis. It contains Carpofen and is available in varying potencies. You must seek immediate medical care if your dog shows signs of bloody stools, blood in the vomit or symptoms of an allergic reaction, after taking Rimadyl.


Etodolac is another NSAID that works to reduce hormones that are known to cause pain and inflammation in pets. As a general guideline, dogs should be given 4.5 mg to 6.8 mg of Etodolac, per pound of body weight, once a day. Since this drug is known to cause severe side effects the vet will ask you to schedule routine follow up checks to test the dog’s blood for any abnormalities.


Metacam is available in suspension form. Pet owners need to measure the exact amount of medication that needs to be administered with the help of a syringe. This medication provides effective relief from inflammation but it can’t be administered in combination with other NSAID’s like Rimadyl. Metacam is not ideal for pets suffering from inflammatory bowel disease and lactating or pregnant pets. It’s thus best to keep the vet informed of your pet’s overall health and medical history when selecting Metacam as a treatment option.


Phenylbutazone is often preferred in comparison to other NSAID’s because it’s relatively inexpensive. This medication is very helpful for pets suffering from osteoarthritis. Since it’s a prescription drug, you need to exert caution when administering it to your dog. Avoid overdosing your pet or combining the drug with other NSAID’s and corticosteroid medications.


Although Adequan is not a NSAID, it belongs to a class of drugs known as DMOAD or Disease Modifying Osteoarthritis Drugs. The medication effectively reduces inflammation and is ideal for pets suffering from traumatic arthritis. Adequan is also better than other NSAID medications because it repairs damaged cartilages and reduces bone degeneration.

These are some of the most commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs that help pets suffering from joint and bone diseases. However, it’s important to confirm diagnosis and administer medications that are best suited to individual pets.