Choosing an Arthritis Medicine for Dogs

Finding an arthritis dog medicine that will help alleviate symptoms can be a daunting task. However, there are several prescription and alternative arthritis dog medicines available. Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints. The best dog arthritis medicine will not only relieve the pain and decrease the inflammation, but will also regenerate cartilage. Only a veterinarian should determine the proper medication and dosages.


Arthritis can afflict any size, breed or gender of dog and it's more common in older dogs than young ones.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Difficulty getting up, lying down, sitting, squatting, standing, jumping or climbing
  • Reluctance to play, walk or move up and down stairs
  • Limping
  • Slow movement
  • Joint tenderness
  • Change in gait or pace
  • Inflammation, stiffness, heat, swelling and/or pain in and around joints


Medicines containing glucosamine and chondroitin are used in treating this disease. They both are produced by the body and are extremely important in the formation and maintaining of the cartilage, ligaments, nails and tendons. These medications are supplemented with NSAIDs to reduce inflammation. Aspirin can be used but must be monitored for any adverse reactions.


One of the best dog arthritis medicines is NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs), which suppresses a chemical in the body called cyclooxygenase. This chemical causes pain and joint inflammation. Common side effects include appetite loss, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and depression. Common risks include ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney damage, digestive tract perforations and liver problems. NSAIDs can be administered in tablets, injections, drops or caplets. NSAIDs are prescribed by a veterinarian after a thorough examination, and are closely monitored by frequent testing to ensure that the drugs are not harming the body.

Common canine NSAIDs include:

  • Previcox (firocoxib) - chewable tablet
  • Etogesic (etodolac) - tablet
  • Metacam (meloxicam) - oral drop or injection
  • Rimadyl (carprofen) - caplet, chewable tablet or injection
  • Deramaxx (deracoxib) - chewable tablet
  • Novox (generic carprofen) - caplet
  • Zubrin (tepoxalin) - disintegrating tablet

Discontinue use if any of the following signs develop:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea or tarry, black or bloody stools
  • Change in urinary habits (color, frequency or smell)
  • Lethargy, aggression, seizure or confusion
  • Jaundice (yellowing of gums, skin or eyes)
  • Red, itchy skin
  • Decrease/increase in appetite or thirst
  • Corticosteroids

Sometimes a veterinarian will prescribe corticosteroids, such as prednisone or dexamethasone, if NSAIDs are not working. Though they can dramatically reduce pain, slow bone density loss, improve damaged cartilage and reduce joint inflammation, they do have some serious risks, particularly if they are used for a long period of time.

Some of the risks are:

  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Skin damage
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased risk of pancreatitis
  • Panting
  • Immune system suppression, leading to other sicknesses

Alternative Arthritis Dog Medicine

Other helpful components (found in arthritis medicines in small doses) which can be added to your dog's diet as supplements are:

  • Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids - anti-inflammatory, increases blood flow
  • Manganese and Ascorbic Acid - promotes strong bones, processes glucosamine
  • Aloe Vera - reduces swelling and inflammation
  • Methylsulfonylmethane(MSM) - supplies sulfur
  • Yucca (manioca) - a root that increases the body's ability to produce cortisone naturally to relieve pain
  • Bromelaine - reduces pain and swelling and restores fluid balance
  • Vitamins - vitamins A (beta carotene), C (ascorbic acid) and E (tocopheral)