Exercises to Help Your Dog Cope With Arthritis

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Not sure which exercises can help your dog live better with arthritis? Read on and discover which exercise can make your dog more comfortable.

Just like humans, dogs go through different phases during their lives.

They get to experience happy moments, a bundle of love, to meet other four-legged friends, to see new places, and to meet other animals.

They also get to experience the downside of life, as well, such as pain. Pain in dogs is something that is common and expected throughout a dog’s lifetime.

Just like humans, dogs have some conditions that are more painful than others, and one of the most troublesome experiences for them is arthritis – inflammation of the joints.

This condition is a common problem for many dogs, especially large dog breeds, such as Great Dane and German Shepherd.

Dogs can live with this condition, although they will always experience some difficulties.

In some cases, they may have difficulties walking, jumping, and performing everyday activities that they never had a problem with.

It can also break their spirit in a way because the poor physical function can make them reluctant to even go on toilet walks.

Luckily, thanks to the right treatment and proper exercise living with arthritis is possible for dogs of any size. Thanks to the right management canine arthritis is manageable.

The main thing that you should do is to encourage your dog to move.

By moving your Fido will reduce the stiffness, manage swelling much better, and overall improve mobility.

As expected, exercising a dog with arthritis can be difficult, and you need to be careful not to put him under some stress – this is why you should be careful when it comes to choosing the right exercises.

The same applies to the right movement, because if you push your dog too hard, your dog may end up with more pain.

Best Exercises For Arthritic Dogs

Exercising is a great idea when it comes to treating arthritis in dogs. However, you need to be careful when it comes to choosing the best exercises for your dog.

You need to think about the breed, the dog’s zie, overall health, joint issues, dog’s energy level in general – which is why you would want to talk with your veterinarian first.

This is the best step to take because you want to avoid more pain in your dog’s condition.

A great choice for arthritic dogs is a physical therapy program because a professional can help your dog stretch and target certain stiff areas.

Plus, massages are great for relieving tension and even improving blood flow to the affected joints.

Although the professional program is great, there are still some ways to help your dog stretch, and remain agile for years to come.


Some dogs are born exceptional swimmers. In fact, some dog breeds are just better built for swimming. Dogs with strong limbs are good swimmers.

Some breeds are great swimmers thanks to their genetics – some dogs were bred to be water dogs and as such have a strong tradition of swimming.

This is why, for example, Newfoundland, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and Labrador Retriever are such amazing swimmers.

This is the same reason why soem breeds, such as Pug, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, and Dachshund aren’t great swimmers at all and shouldn’t be forced to be water dogs.

Make sure that you know how great or not a swimmer your dog is. If you are not sure if your dog should be in the water, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian.

All in, swimming is one of the best possible exercises for dogs with arthritis. Why? As an exercise, swimming has no impact on the joints.

The water supports the dog’s body weight, making the movement much easier.

Your dog will have to move in the water, stretching muscles and joints. Swimming is also one of the best exercises for improved range of motion.

Light Walks

When in pain, the dog will usually try not to move. They will often be quiet, sit in their corner, and even refuse food and water.

If your dog refuses to eat and drink, make sure that you contact the veterinarian immediately.

When suffering from arthritis your dog is more likely to prefer shorter walks, and avoid high jumping, or any kind of jumping.

In some more severe cases, climbing on the coach is like mission impossible, and your dog will need extra help with it.

So, to manage easier your dog’s condition cut long walks to shorter versions. Turn hour-long walks into shorter and gentle walks.

Keep them around 15 minutes long and let your dog set the rhythm. He may be moving slowly, but he is still moving.

Indoor Play

Playing with your dog indoors is a great way to keep him moving.

Sometimes, for dogs in pain, going outside for short walks can be too much, so staying in for some playtime could be a win-win solution.

Think about interesting indoor games that both you and your dog find interesting.

Think about daily tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek, or even about short-distance fetch inside or any other indoor play activity for dogs, as these are activities that your dog can do in his own rhythm without getting too excited. This is also a safe way to provide needed exercise while avoiding being hurt.

If your dog’s arthritis is severe, your veterinarian might have different recommendations.

If so, make sure that you follow them. These exercises may be more suitable for dogs with early signs of arthritis, or as arthritis prevention.

Always talk with your veterinarian first before you try to implement any exercise in your dog’s routine. This way you will avoid any injury and keep your dog healthier.

It’s important to note that you should avoid any exercises that require a high impact on the joints and long durations.

Hiking, jumping, or jogging should be an option anymore, just like frisbee jumping or chasing a ball across the field – these activities can add more pain to your dog’s overall health than benefits.

If your dog isn’t capable of doing something physically, do not force him to do so.

Watch For Signs Of Exertion

Make sure that you monitor your dog’s behavior all the time. If you notice anything unusual, react. Watch for heavy panting, pain, or any other sign of overexertion.

If you notice any of these signs, stop the activity and consult a veterinarian immediately.

If you choose to continue and push forward with the exercise, it can cause injury and prolong issues, especially if your dog isn’t familiar with a lot of activity.

Always Warm Up First

No matter what you have planned for activities, make sure that you always warm up your dog first.

A simple and light walk of a minute or two before low-impact exercise activities will help tremendously dogs with arthritis move easier.

Warm up will also help reduce sprains, cramps, and even muscle injuries and even gradually increase heart rate.

If your dog is reluctant to start moving because of joint pain, try to motivate him a bit via a small healthy treat or positive affection. Petting your dog can do wonders in motivating him to do something.

Avoid hugging, because no matter how much your dog cares about you, some dogs will forever see it as a dominant move and may react instinctively to protect themself.

The Bottom Line

Dealing with arthritis will take time and energy both in you and your dog.

You will need to invest a lot to understand what your dog enjoys the most, while not suffering at the same time.

There will be testing, trials, and many errors to find the right amount of exercise that’s right for your dog.

You can still go on an adventure and exploring an expedition, but you will have to adjust to new needs and lifestyles.

Don’t dwell on what you can’t do but instead focus on great activities you can still enjoy together every day.