when to euthanize a dog with arthritis

When to Euthanize a Dog with Arthritis: Making the Compassionate Decision

It’s extremely difficult to say farewell, especially when it’s to our dear four-legged companions. It becomes shattering to witness your dog suffering from arthritis as he whines or cries from the pain of trying to rise from a reclining posture. What’s more, they show absolutely no interest in their preferred foods and playthings.

Dogs with arthritis deal with constant pain. While pain medication and arthritis treatment can help alleviate the pain, at some point, the dog’s suffering can become unbearable.

At this point, choosing euthanasia might be only the option to save your canine friend from severe pain.

For pet owners, it’s a tough decision. We understand what it means to put your beloved pet down.

So, here’s everything you need to know about when to euthanize a dog with arthritis and whether you should go ahead with the merciful death sentence.

What’s arthritis

Arthritis, or osteoarthritis, is a progressive joint disease commonly affecting dogs and other animals. It may begin early in the dog’s life but to the pup’s poor conformation. In other words, when the dog’s joints are not well-formed, causing it to degenerate faster.

Another primary cause of arthritis is a second injury, like a broken bone close to the joint or torn ACL. Also, as dogs age, the joints experience wear and tear that can lead to complete breakdown. Overweight dogs strain the joint, making it more difficult and painful for your pet to move.

Furthermore, the cartilage between the bones serving as a protection and cushion wears out and inflamed. Joint inflammation is a leading cause of arthritis.

When to euthanize a dog with arthritis

There’s no easy way to go about ending the life of your arthritic dog. The decision boils down to your dog’s quality of life.

Arthritis has four stages. If your pet dog is at the last stage, then it’s almost impossible to remedy your dog’s condition. This life-threatening stage is when you notice severe muscle loss and pain meds are ineffective.

Your dog’s situation has worsened, and you must put aside your emotions to make the right call with your vet. It’ll be one of the most difficult decisions for many owners. But there’s nothing you can do to improve your dog’s quality of life at this stage.

That’s not to say a dog with arthritis means a death sentence.

What are the key influences on the development of arthritis?

Dogs, like humans, develop arthritis. This health issue is common among senior dogs. However, other factors increase your dog’s chances of developing arthritis, like genetics, obesity, surgery or injury, breed/size, and nutrition.

Larger dog breeds are more prone to arthritis. Large dogs are known for suffering from elbow or hip dysplasia. Another risk factor is what you feed your dogs. Dog food lacking in fatty acids (vital for joint health) increases your pet’s chances of dealing with arthritis.

How to help a dog with arthritis recover?

As mentioned earlier, arthritis is common in older dogs, especially large dogs. For dogs diagnosed with this condition, the only option is to manage your dog’s arthritis. Usually, this involves physical therapy and pain medication. Arthritis treatment is only effective for stages 1 – 3.

Stage 4, your pet won’t be able to bear the pain anymore. At this point, you want to visit a local vet’s office and discuss euthanizing your dog.

But before this point, pain management is essential for dog suffering from arthritis. It helps alleviate the pain and improve your pet’s quality of life.

Here are vet-suggested pain management options for a dog with arthritis:

Weight management

Weight management is an excellent way to manage your dog’s arthritis. Obese dogs put a lot of weight on their joints, triggering arthritis. It’s crucial to adjust the dog’s diet to meet the much-needed nutrition while offering anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. These building blocks are essential for improving your dog’s health.

Also, your vet may suggest engaging in low-impact exercises to help lose weight, which puts less strain on the joints. Weight loss reduces pain and improves your dog’s quality of life.

Pain medication

Pain meds play an integral part in the treatment of a dog with arthritis. Medications like meloxicam or carprofen help relieve joint pain in dogs. With time, your vet will probably suggest using different pain relievers to reduce pain in dogs with arthritis.

Alternative therapies

Physical therapies can offer several immense benefits to your senior dog with arthritis. For example, water therapy is perfect for relieving joint stress as it fosters weight loss and muscle gain.

Other alternative therapies are known to manage the pain associated with arthritis, such as acupuncture, laser therapy, shockwave therapy, etc. Contemporary therapies help your dog live a more comfortable life.

Related FAQs

Is there any reason my arthritic dog is experiencing muscle wasting?

Yes, arthritis causes your pet to be reluctant to move around, resulting in muscle wasting. Over time, muscle disuse and lack of physical activity lead to muscle loss.

When should I consider euthanizing a dog with arthritis?

Arthritis is a manageable joint disease and not fatal. However, if your pet is no longer responding to treatment or has a poor quality of life due to severe pain, then euthanizing your dog may be the only option. Visit your vet’s office for more details.

Are anti-inflammatories commonly used to manage arthritis in dogs?

Yes, anti-inflammatories are frequently used in the treatment of arthritis in dogs. These medications help reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and improve mobility, thereby enhancing the dog’s quality of life.


Pets cannot talk. So, it’s up to us, as humans, to pay attention to the signs of suffering. Arthritis affects the dog’s life. In some cases, physical therapy, supplements, exercise, and such can help slow down this progressive disease and improve the dog’s health.

If every attempt to relieve your dog’s pain is futile, it’s heartbreaking to watch your pets suffer. At this point, you want to visit your visit and discuss the best way to euthanize a dog.

Important note: pet loss can be a devastating experience for you and your family members. So, remember to heal as a family and not ignore your own emotions.

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