Can Physical Therapy Help Dogs with Arthritis?

Are you concerned about your dog’s aching joints? Physical therapy can be a great way to ease the pain of arthritis in dogs and improve their quality of life. You’ll be surprised to discover the many benefits of pet physical therapy!

Quick facts: Physical Therapy For Dogs With Arthritis

  • ✅ Regular physical therapy such as massage, stretching, and joint mobilization can reduce inflammation and pain caused by canine arthritis (American College of Veterinary Surgeons).
  • ✅ Cold laser therapy is a beneficial treatment for dogs with arthritis and can reduce pain and swelling (Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association).
  • ✅ Strength and balance exercises can help improve the range of motion in dogs with arthritis and improve their mobility (American Veterinary Medical Association).
  • ✅ Canine hydrotherapy is an effective form of physical therapy for dogs with arthritis as it reduces joint pain and stiffness while promoting muscle strength and joint flexibility (Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association).
  • ✅ Aquatic therapies such as underwater treadmill exercise can help improve balance and range of motion in dogs with arthritis (Veterinary Practice News).
  • Introduction

    The introduction of physical therapy for dogs suffering from arthritis is a relatively new concept. Dogs with arthritis experience pain and stiffness in the joints, making movement difficult. Physical therapy can be used to help reduce pain associated with the condition, improve range of motion, improve strength and balance, and restore basic mobility. It can also help prevent the condition from becoming worse or progressing more quickly than expected.

    Physical therapy for dogs includes a variety of treatments, depending on your pet’s individual needs and severity of the condition. Treatments may include:

    • massage
    • stretching exercises
    • underwater treadmill exercises
    • laser treatments
    • therapeutic ultrasound
    • In some cases, acupuncture may also be beneficial for reducing joint discomfort caused by arthritis.

    All therapies have one thing in common: they are designed to increase muscle strength and flexibility while improving overall quality of life for your pet.

    What is Arthritis?

    Arthritis is the inflammation of joints and the tissues around them, which can cause pain and stiffness. It is a common condition in dogs, and can be caused by a variety of factors including genetics, age, and weight. Arthritis can greatly affect an animal’s mobility, but physical therapy can help to reduce the severity of these symptoms.

    Let’s explore how physical therapy can help dogs with arthritis:

    Causes of Arthritis in Dogs

    Arthritis in dogs is typically caused by a combination of inflammation, weakening, and wearing away of the joint’s cartilage. This can happen due to age, injury or infection. When the cartilage is weakened and worn away, it cannot cushion the bones as well as it should, leading to pain, swelling and stiffness. Some breeds are predisposed to developing arthritis due to their body structure or genetic make-up.

    There are also some environmental factors that can increase a dog’s chance of getting arthritis such as lack of exercise or too much weight on the joints. Overworking a young dog’s joints can also be a contributing factor for arthritis in older dogs. Additionally, excessive licking or chewing on a certain part of its body due to allergies or skin irritation can lead to cartilage loss and arthritic changes in that area.

    Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

    Arthritis in dogs is a common condition that can cause pain and stiffness. While it is most common in older dogs, arthritis can affect all age groups. Common symptoms of arthritis in dogs include:

    • Limping
    • Joint stiffness after rest
    • Decreased activity level
    • Tenderness and swelling in the joints
    • Difficulty climbing stairs
    • Difficulty with grooming or playing

    If left untreated, these problems will worsen over time and cause increasingly dangerous levels of discomfort for your pet.

    Physical therapy can help your pet regain normal motion and reduce associated pain from arthritis. There are several physical therapy techniques that can be used to help with flexibility, range of motion, muscle strengthening, endurance training and core body conditioning. Depending on your dog’s age and level of health before being diagnosed with arthritis the type of physical therapy prescribed may vary greatly but the goal would remain the same: to improve mobility without exacerbating the existing symptoms of inflammation or joint deterioration.

    How Can Physical Therapy Help?

    Physical therapy is a great option for your dog if they are suffering from arthritis. It can help reduce joint pain, improve joint range of motion and flexibility, and even provide an improved quality of life for your pet. Physical therapy can also help strengthen weak muscles, improve circulation and help improve balance and coordination.

    Let’s explore some more of the benefits of physical therapy for dogs with arthritis:

    • Reduce joint pain
    • Improve joint range of motion and flexibility
    • Provide an improved quality of life
    • Strengthen weak muscles
    • Improve circulation
    • Improve balance and coordination

    Benefits of Physical Therapy for Dogs with Arthritis

    Physical therapy, or exercise rehabilitation, can be a valuable part of managing arthritis in dogs. It can help to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and improve mobility and quality of life. The goal of physical therapy is to maintain joint range of motion and muscle strength while reducing pain and discomfort.

    A wide range of exercises designed specifically for arthritis patients help to increase the range of motion and flexibility as well as strengthen core muscles that are important for supporting and protecting joint structures.

    A certified canine physical therapist will use techniques such as:

    • massage
    • strengthening exercises
    • range-of-motion exercises
    • balance activities
    • aquatic therapy (if available)
    • cold laser therapy (for pain management)
    • other modalities such as electrical stimulation or ultrasound.

    They may also provide heat treatments to reduce discomfort and improve overall relaxation.

    As with any health care plan for your pet, it’s important that you follow your veterinarian’s recommendations when starting an exercise program for your dog with arthritis.

    Types of Physical Therapy for Dogs with Arthritis

    Physical therapy can be an important part of treatment for a dog with arthritis. It helps to decrease pain, increase mobility, and improve quality of life. Physical therapy for dogs may include:

    • Underwater treadmill training, which utilizes the resistance of water to help increase muscle strength and reduce pain for dogs with arthritis.
    • Laser therapy, which provides a low-level laser light which helps improve circulation to support healing as well as provide deep heat to aid in relaxation of tight muscles or joints.
    • Joint mobilization, which is the use of gentle manual techniques to help re-establish movement in stiff joints that have limited range of motion from arthritis.
    • Massage and stretching, which can provide relief from the tightness and stiffness associated with arthritis by loosening up muscles surrounding the joint, improving flexibility, and decreasing inflammation.

    Treatment Options

    Careful management of a dog’s joint discomfort can help them remain active and maintain their quality of life. Physical Therapy is an important part of treating arthritis in dogs, and there are a variety of treatments available to help dogs manage their condition. Let’s take a look at some of the options available:

    • Option 1
    • Option 2
    • Option 3
    • Option 4
    • Option 5

    Non-Invasive Treatments

    Non-invasive treatments are therapies that do not involve surgery or drugs. They can include things like physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, and nutritional supplements. While non-invasive modalities cannot reverse the damage caused by arthritis, they can help manage pain and inflammation to improve quality of life.

    • Physical therapy is often used to help dogs maintain mobility by helping them gain strength and coordination while also reducing discomfort. Range of motion exercises, stretching and gentle massage techniques may be used to improve flexibility and reduce joint pain in dogs with arthritis.
    • Acupuncture may be used both as a stand-alone treatment option or in conjunction with other modalities such as physical therapy or chiropractic care to help reduce inflammation in the affected joints.
    • Nutritional supplements can also help manage arthritis in dogs by supplying additional anti-inflammatory compounds that can be beneficial for joint health.

    Invasive Treatments

    Invasive treatments refer to those that require a procedure or minor surgery. These treatments are typically sought after when other conservative treatment options have failed. For example, if your dog has been given medications, was being treated with physical therapy, and still had no improvements in mobility then an invasive treatment may be the next step.

    Some common invasive treatments for arthritis include:

    • Injections of joint supplements
    • Surgical procedures to correct severe joint abnormalities
    • Drugs injected into the spine or joints like corticosteroids
    • Joint replacement surgery

    These can have a range of benefits depending on the severity of your dog’s condition, but they also come with risks such as infection and further damage due to the nature of these treatments. Ultimately it is important to discuss all risk factors with your veterinarian before deciding whether this is an appropriate course of action for your furry friend.


    The answer to the question of whether or not physical therapy can help dogs with arthritis is yes. Physical therapy can help reduce pain and improve mobility in dogs suffering from arthritis. Stretches and exercises, massage, heat and cold therapy, laser therapy, hydrotherapy, and chiropractic adjustments are all modalities that can be used to treat canine arthritis.

    Physical therapy should always be used in conjunction with medication prescribed by your veterinarian. It is important to seek guidance from a licensed veterinarian or certified physical therapist for proper diagnosis and treatment for your pet’s condition. With the right care plan and proper support your dog can enjoy great health benefits through the use of physical therapy.

    FAQs about: Physical Therapy For Dogs With Arthritis

    Q: What is physical therapy for dogs with arthritis?
    A: Physical therapy for dogs with arthritis is a form of rehabilitation treatment that helps reduce pain and improve mobility in dogs suffering from this joint condition. Physical therapy can include activities such as exercise, range of motion exercises, cold therapy, and massage.

    Q: What are the benefits of physical therapy for dogs with arthritis?
    A: Physical therapy can help reduce pain and improve range of motion in affected joints, which can help improve quality of life for dogs with arthritis. It can also help reduce inflammation and swelling, protect against further joint damage, and improve overall strength and balance.

    Q: How often is physical therapy recommended for dogs with arthritis?
    A: The frequency of physical therapy will vary depending on the individual dog and the severity of their arthritis. Guidelines generally recommend physical therapy twice a week, but more frequent treatments may be necessary depending on the individual situation.

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