Skip to Content

Osteoarthritis in Dogs: What are Some Exercise Modifications to Help Your Dog?

For us humans, the main symptom of osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease, as it is more commonly known, is chronic pain and inflammation in the joints. Dogs can also feel the same way and many become less active and develop weight gain and lethargy.

Osteoarthritis does not have to stop your dog from being active.

With a few adjustments to their exercise routine, they can stay fit and happy.

CBD oil for dogs can help ease the pain and inflammation associated with the condition.

You will find several ways to help your dog cope with osteoarthritis below.

Osteoarthritis in Dogs: What are Some Exercise Modifications to Help Your Dog?

Weight Management

If your pup has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, try to help them lose weight if needed.

When your dog carries too much mass, it will be difficult for them to exercise.

A healthy weight can go a long way to improve mobility and reduce pain.

Consider getting an assistive device or customized cart if your dog has trouble moving.

It can help keep the dog active without putting excess strain on joints.

If you are unsure what type of wheelchair is best suited for your dog, consult with a professional canine physical therapist.

When your dog is more mobile, they can start to exercise again.

Agility training or short sessions of obedience and recall are great ways to get started.

Prioritize low-impact exercises.

Avoid high intensity and high impact activities such as running and jumping, even in small doses.

Let’s not forget about diet.

Treats are great for training, but you should look at your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Obesity can put even more strain on the joints, so limit snacks and high-calorie foods, if possible.

Essential oil for dogs may be a useful addition to their diet, as well.

Large dog swimming

Best Exercises For Arthritic Dogs

The best exercises for dogs with osteoarthritis are low-impact resistance training, such as walking or swimming.

It will help keep their muscles strong without placing too much stress on the joints.

Water Activities

Swimming is an excellent exercise for dogs with arthritis because the water provides buoyancy.

This activity reduces the stress on joints and gives them more freedom to move their limbs.

You can even have your pooch work out on an underwater treadmill.

This type of physical therapy is for dogs with all sorts of medical conditions, including arthritis and muscular dystrophy.

Since dogs are usually great swimmers, they will most likely enjoy this workout.


Walking is another way to help reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis.

If swimming or walking is not an option, low-intensity exercises such as playing fetch or participating in “nose work” games are good low-impact options.

Some nose work activities include searching for treats, going on a scavenger hunt, or a search and rescue type of training.


You can also go on a short hike.

Just make sure the ground is level with no hills for your dog to climb.

Such hills will put too much stress on the joints, so always avoid this if possible.

Senior dog on leash in the grass

Amount of Time To Keep Your Dog Active

Monitor your dog as they exercise.

If they start showing signs of pain or distress, such as limping or indicating that a specific area of the body is painful, stop the activity immediately.

Rather than pushing the envelope, try starting with short 10-minute sessions.

You can get your dog moving without exacerbating its condition.

If your dog can tolerate longer periods of walking and swimming without any signs of pain, then try increasing the length of their sessions gradually.

Over time you may be able to work up to 30-45 minute sessions, but always make sure you are keeping an eye on your dog for signs of fatigue or arthritis flare-ups.

Work with your veterinarian or a veterinary physical therapist to develop an individualized program geared towards strengthening the muscles around the joints.

Exercises to avoid with an arthritic dog are any that involve sudden stops or starts.

Happy couple with their dog walking on mountain top

Canine Osteoarthritis Affects Us All

In conclusion, most dogs with osteoarthritis will not be able to continue their previous activity levels, but they can still live active lives – and be your best friend.

By adjusting their exercise routine, considering if CBD oil for dogs is right for your furry friend, and monitoring their body’s response, dogs can continue to participate in activities they enjoy.

Don’t be afraid to use water activities if your dog has difficulty walking.

Your pooch can also participate in low-impact exercises, such as nose work activities.

These types of games not only help them stay active, but they can be a great way to bond with your dog as well.

Molli Taylor

Monday 7th of March 2022

this is good info! just like senior adults, older dogs need healthy exercise

Jodi Hunter

Sunday 6th of March 2022

Thanks so much for this post, my cocker spaniel had arthritis, swimming really helped.

Rita Wray

Saturday 5th of March 2022

Interesting post.

Debbie P

Friday 4th of March 2022

My girl is starting to have a few problems. Thanks for the info.

Marisela Zuniga

Friday 4th of March 2022

this is great information, thanks for sharing

Love these woofs?

Help spread our waggie tales. You're pawesome for doing it!