What is arthritis?

It’s a degenerative condition that affects one or more joints, with the resulting pain from inflammation progressing over time if left untreated, causing the condition to get worse. It can result in changes to the cartilage, fluid, bones and capsule of the joint.

  • A painful, progressive inflammatory disease of the joints
  • The joints most commonly affected are the hip, knee, elbow, shoulder, carpus and spinal column
  • Causes damage to the joint cartilage resulting in inflammation causing pain
  • Pain associated with arthritis is significant. This pain has a profound impact on mobility and quality of life
  • Is an ongoing degenerative condition

What causes arthritis in dogs like your dog?

There are many things that can cause arthritis in dogs such as:

  • Traumatic injuries that result in joint instability
  • Obesity - being overweight increases the forces acting on the joint
  • Genetically weakened or unstable joints e.g. hip dysplasia
  • Failure of proper bone development in young dogs

Arthritis in dogs

Arthritis (osteoarthritis) is a painful and debilitating condition affecting 1 in 5 dogs, over the age of one1. Arthritis doesn’t discriminate - it affects people and dogs of all ages. If you notice any changes in your dog’s mood and level of activity, it may be due to the pain of arthritis, one of the most common chronic conditions which veterinarians treat.

1Johnston S.A. (1997), Osteoarthritis: Joint anatomy, physiology and pathobiology. Veterinary Clinics of North America – Small Animal Practice 27, 699-723)

While no cure exists for arthritis, there are pain management options available for your dog, which will greatly reduce the impact of the condition and increase their quality of life. Some dogs feel pain while recovering from surgery, or an injury, whilst others experience pain because of a chronic condition like arthritis. Both Rimadyl® (in various presentations) and Trocoxil® Chewable Tablets for Dogs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly known as ‘NSAIDs’. They have been proven effective in relieving the clinical signs of pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.


You need to consult your vet to find out the best lifestyle changes and pain management options. However, you can help improve your pet’s quality of life at home by using the WET approach:

  • Weight management

    Excessive weight places significant stress on joints, which accelerates the development of arthritis. Your dog’s ideal weight can be achieved by carefully reducing their calorie intake, or by feeding a calorie reduced diet, and resisting the temptation of giving all those treats from the table, our small leftovers could be equivalent to a cheeseburger for our dog!
  • Exercise

    Exercise builds muscle mass, which increases joint stability and keeps them mobile. It also assists in weight control. The general exercise rules for an arthritic dog include:

    • Several short exercise periods throughout the day with rest periods in between
    • Similar daily exercise patterns, even on weekends
    • Warm up and warm down periods at the start and end of each exercise period
    • Not exercising dogs to the point of exhaustion
  • Therapy (Pain Management)

    Medications are available to help manage the symptoms of arthritis. Some of these medications include those that manage the chronic pain associated with arthritis. Effective pain management helps to:

    • Relieve your dog’s suffering
    • Restore mobility
    • Restore quality of life
    • Slow down disease progression

    There are 3 fundamental principles of therapy:
    1. Use it in combination with diet and exercise lifestyle changes
    2. Use immediately upon your dog’s initial arthritis diagnosis
    3. Use pain medication continuously and for the long term

  • What can I expect from an NSAID?

    After treatment with Rimadyl or Trocoxil, the transformation in your dog can be remarkable. Day after day, dog owners and veterinarians tell us about the incredible difference that Rimadyl or Trocoxil has made in the quality of dogs’ lives. Some benefits your dog could experience include:

    • Getting up quicker
    • Moving around faster
    • Jumping into the car or on to the back of the ute again
    • More responsive to commands
    • Regaining the personality of a younger dog again
    • Sleeping easier and more peacefully
    • Generally feeling ‘happier”
  • What happens if your dog is left untreated?

    If the chronic pain associated with arthritis is left untreated a condition called central sensitisation of the central nervous system develops, which increases joint inflammation, painful flare ups and cartilage breakdown, and increasing the pain your pet is experiencing. Once this happens, it becomes more difficult and takes longer to treat.
    Continuous pain relief will help prevent this from happening, and over time the benefits for the dog improve progressively.



When should I see improvements in my dog after treatment with
Rimadyl or Trocoxil?

An improvement should be seen within the first few days of treatment; however your dog should continue to improve with extended treatment.

What are the possible side effects of non-steroidal anti-
inflammatory (NSAID) treatment?

A small percentage of dogs may show some side effects following treatment. These are usually mild and short lived. The most common side effects involve the gastrointestinal tract (i.e. vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite). If you notice any side effects, or changes to your dog’s health please contact your vet.

My dog seems a little stiff in the mornings, could this be arthritis
and is he in pain?

Yes. Arthritis is painful at all stages, as it is in people. In the early stages of arthritis you may notice subtle changes in your dog’s walk, discomfort with joint movement and occasional limping.

My doctor tells me not to take too many anti-inflammatories, I
don’t want to give them to my dog, are they safe?

Dogs and humans are very different. Rimadyl and Trocoxil have been developed especially for dogs. There have been many safety studies done which show in the majority of dogs, these treatments ar e safe and hugely beneficial. There is a small risk which can be discussed with your vet or you can contact our technical services team at Zoetis who are here to help you.

Do dietary supplements treat arthritis?

Whilst there is some evidence that dietary supplements may support joint cartilage and slow the progression of arthritis, they do not address the pain caused by arthritis. The most important dietary measure in an arthritic dog is the maintenance of a lean body weight.

My dog isn’t limping though – could he still have arthritis?

Yes. Pain can be demonstrated in many different ways, often this is displayed as behavioural changes which may include disobedience, aggression, sleeping more, following you around the house or a change in their normal routine.

I take glucosamine every day and it really helps my pain – can I
not just give this to my dog instead, it must be much safer?

Even natural remedies come with certain risk factors. Different species respond differently to a range of treatments and what works for you may not necessarily work as well or be safe for your pets, (for example you should NEVER give paracetamol to your cat). Your vet is the best person to advise you on this.

Is it best just to give the tablets until he is better and then stop?

For osteoarthritis, there are many studies to show that continuous treatment is far superior to intermittent treatment, and your dog will not only be in less pain, but the condition itself will improve and your dog will have a happier more productive life.