Canine Lameness and Arthritis

Description: Your pet may experience difficulty getting up, going up or down stairs, jumping up on furniture or hesitancy to sit in a normal position. You may notice this intermittently or consistently.

Symptoms: Limping, holding affected leg up, slower to get up, hesitant jumping

What to look for: Depending on the cause of your pets’ lameness we can see a wide variety of abnormalities. You may see limping, holding the leg up or an inability to use the leg. You may otherwise notice difficulty getting up, using stairs, standing for long periods or sitting normally. These symptoms may ‘come and go’ or be constantly present.

How does it happen? Pets can experience trauma (rough-housing with other pets, falling, objects falling on the pet) resulting in lameness. We can also see lameness as the result of skeletal changes within the joint.

Dog Teeth

What questions do we ask?

  • How long have you noticed the limping?
  • Which leg(s) are affected?
  • How often does he/she limp? Is it worse at a particular time of the day?
  • History of trauma?
  • Any limping in the past?
  • Have you tried anything at home?
  • Is he/she on any medications? Include dosage and frequency.

What are the steps we take to treat your pet?

  • The first step in diagnosing and treating your pet is a taking a thorough history and completing a physical exam. We may want to perform radiographs (x-rays) of the injured leg to identify any abnormalities and better target our treatment. We commonly sedate pets that are having radiographs done. This sedation eliminates pain and discomfort to allow for a better exam of the injured area and better positioning for the radiograph.
  • We may also recommend some general blood testing (chemistry panel and complete blood count) to check organ function and ensure our treatment plan will be safe for your pet.

What are potential treatment plans?

Oral medications

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories – NSAIDS (Carprofen, Galliprant, Deracoxib, Metacam): these medications decrease inflammation and control pain. This is often a “first-line” treatment.
  • Gabapentin: this is a pain medication that is commonly used for neuropathic pain and is good as a “first-line” treatment or as an “add-on” for additional pain control.
  • Tramadol: this is a pain medication that is commonly used as an “add-on” for additional pain control.
  • Joint supplements (dasuquin, synovi chews) and Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplements are often prescribed.


  • Adequan (Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan): this component targets joints to help restore lubrication, relieve inflammation and renew the building blocks of healthy cartilage. The injections have an accumulative effect so we start out giving one injection per week for 4 weeks then one injection every other week followed by one injection monthly indefinitely.

Chiropractic adjustments are available if indicated.

How do we arrive at a diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan?

  • We obtain a thorough medical history for your pet (through questions and prior veterinary records), complete a thorough physical exam, and recommend the appropriate testing to arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan. We can definitely help your pet.

What results have we seen


What are the risks if lameness is left untreated?

  • Lameness can be a medical problem that requires treatment. If left untreated, your pets’ condition may progress leading to more inflammation, pain and a decreased quality of life.


We have treated pets with extreme symptoms of lameness with success in providing comfort and improved quality of life. You can expect to see improvement within days of your veterinary visit.


Animal Doctor Provider

Dr. Jennifer Arneson has over 20 years of experience managing lameness in pets. Her broad knowledge of the field has helped many pets lead happier and healthier lives.

Dr. Leigh Wacker has 4 years of experience managing lameness cases with many successful outcomes.