How long can a dog live with Arthritis?

Arthritis is a relatively common problem in both humans and beloved pets in the UK.

dog arthritis

We are dog lovers here so we want the best for our pets as we do for ourselves……

Among dogs, there are three main types of arthritis, and they have an increased incidence compared to other animals because they are more active in exercising and running, may develop a genetic predisposition in some cases, and commonly suffer injuries and wounds that may become infected and trigger a type of bacterial arthritis we will cover in this article. Amazon can offer your dog Arthritis relief click here.

According to statistics, one in four dogs may suffer from a type of arthritis throughout their lifetime, and even though there is variation in type and progression, the main symptoms when dogs have Arthritis is pain, lameness, and changes in behavior you will be able to notice if you pay close attention to your dog.

UK Dog Arthritis Research and Data

with thanks


Types of arthritis you should know about

There are three main types of arthritis in dogs, each one with a prognosis that depends on the course of the disease and how soon your dog is diagnosed and treated. They are as follows:

  • Osteoarthritis: It is the most common type of arthritis in dogs, and results from wear and tear of the articulations. Osteoarthritis is associated with a significant loss of cartilage and bone, especially in articulations with a wide range of movements. In dogs, osteoarthritis has 4 stages that will be described in the following table:


  Disease progression Symptoms
Stage-1 osteoarthritis The cartilage starts to wear down. The dysfunction is mainly metabolic, but the loss of cartilage starts to create friction and inflammation. Occasional pain with no mobility issues.
Stage-2 osteoarthritis The loss of cartilage is enough to create bone erosion. New bone starts growing abnormally (osteophytes or bone spurs) and further limits mobility. More frequent incidence of pain with mild mobility issues.
Stage-3 osteoarthritis The space between the bones is narrow, and the cushion provided by cartilage is lost. Inflammation is prominent in this stage, and mobility is compromised. Pain is moderate to severe, and associated with joint movements and moderate to severe mobility issues.
Stage-4 osteoarthritis The cartilage between bones is almost gone, and the space between bones is severely reduced. Inflammation is severe. There’s a dramatic reduction of mobility, and the dog continuously cries when trying to move.


  • Immune-mediated polyarthritis: This problem is more common in medium to large breeds after their middle age, as in German Shepherds, spaniels, and retrievers. As the name implies, it is a polyarthritis, which means it affects various articulations at the same time, and it can be either erosive with deformation of the articulation or nonerosive without significant changes in the structure of the joint. This disease is triggered by an abnormal immune reaction against healthy tissue of the joint, and one of the subtypes is rheumatoid arthritis, as seen in the table below:
Type Cause What it is Symptoms
Erosive Polyarthritis Rheumatoid arthritis Similar to what happens with us humans there is a genetic form of rheumatoid arthritis. In  however this dogs features subchondral bone destruction and deformation of the articulations. It is uncommon in dogs. Pain and swelling of the articulation. Pain results from movements and manipulation of the articulation. There is deformation of the joints in advanced cases.
Felty’s syndrome It is the union of neutropenia, rheumatoid arthritis and splenomegaly in dogs. It is very rare, even more so than rheumatoid arthritis.
Non-erosive polyarthritis Idiopathic polyarthritis The most common form of non-erosive polyarthritis. It is more common in large breeds and young dogs (2 to 4 years). The cause is not known but may be further complicated with an infection, gastrointestinal problems, or certain types of cancer. Pain and mobility issues are essential for the diagnose with no swelling or deformation of the articulation. May have additional symptoms according to the subtype
Vaccine-induced polyarthritis Signs will be visible 30 days after receiving a vaccine. It usually resolves after a few days, except for Akitas, which are genetically predisposed to longer and more painful symptoms. Sudden onset of pain and crying upon moving the articulation and lameness. May be associated with fever.
Breed-specific polyarthritis Juvenile-onset polyarthritis in the case of Akitas appear between week 9 and the eight month and familial Chinese shar-pei fever occurs in 23% of shar-pei dogs before 18 months of age Episodes of inflammation and joint pain with fever.
Polyarthritis/polymyositis syndrome Polyarthritis is inflammation in various articulations, and polymyositis means inflammation in various muscles. This syndrome is not common, but the majority of cases it affects Spaniels. Muscle and articular swelling and pain
Systemic lupus erythematosus An autoimmune disease that causes a minor number of cases Multiple symptoms including articular pain depending on the type of Lupus Erythematosus


  • Septic arthritis: It is one of the rarest forms of arthritis and results from bacterial infection. It has a sudden onset of pain and lameness with inflammation, heat, and tenderness in the joints. It may be caused by a hematogenous spread of bacteria in chronically debilitated animals, but the majority of reported cases are infected surgical wounds, bite wounds, and other penetrating injuries. It is a monoarticular disease (it affects only one joint) and pain is commonly associated with changes in leukocyte count and other signs.
Tips for preventing arthritis in your dog


Is my dog going to live a long and happy life?

As you can see in the chart and bullet points above, there’s no way to answer that question without analyzing each case separately. There are many types and subtypes of arthritis in dogs, but the majority of them have a very good prognosis when the diagnosis is made in an early phase.



Your dog can live his entire lifespan with an improved quality of life in some cases, but in others, there is a high chance of severe and life-threatening complications with a guarded prognosis.



Erosive forms of arthritis are associated with a poor prognosis with a significant reduction in quality of life. Conversely, non-erosive types of arthritis are entirely benign.


What Can I do to help the best?

The majority of cases of idiopathic polyarthritis (the most common form of arthritis in dogs) improve significantly with early treatment and relapse is unlikely.




When there is a relapse, dogs may require life-long therapy to improve their symptoms, but most of them respond to treatment, improve their symptoms, and will be able to live a happy life for many years to come!




Abercromby, R., Innes, J., & Clements, D. (2018). Arthritis. In BSAVA Manual of canine and feline musculoskeletal disorders (pp. 65-86). BSAVA Library.


Soontornvipart, K., Kohout, P., & Proks, P. (2003). Septic arthritis in dogs: a retrospective study of 20 cases (2000-2002). Acta Veterinaria Brno, 72(3), 405-413.


Johnson, K. C., & Mackin, A. (2012). Canine immune-mediated polyarthritis: part 1: pathophysiology. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, 48(1), 12-17.


Johnson, K. C., & Mackin, A. (2012). Canine immune-mediated polyarthritis: part 2: diagnosis and treatment. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, 48(2), 71-82.


Bland, S. D. (2015). Canine osteoarthritis and treatments: a review. Veterinary Science Development.

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