Joint Health: At-Home Remedies for Senior Pets

Pet Health and Safety  •  Pam Karkow  •  Friday, September 4, 2020

When we adopted our Hattie Bear, she came with a bag full of toys from her previous owners, a plush doggy bed, and a container of homemade joint supplements. Knowing she was only a year and a half, I looked at her foster mom questioningly. Arthritis? At such a young age?

Turns out Hattie’s previous owner had a habit of not walking her for weeks, then taking her on a several mile-long jog. The inactivity coupled with the sudden burst of exercise had resulted in tendonitis in one of the joints in her leg. We found out that the at-home remedy worked wonders and eventually were able to taper off her dosage! Now she is pain-free and living the good life!

So, what are some ways you can prevent and soothe your dog's achy joints? Here are some options to try…

Weight management

According to Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM, most pets are more than 5% overweight. This can be a problem when it comes to joint health because extra weight means extra stress on the joints. If your dog is overweight, consult your vet first to make sure he does not have an underlying condition. Hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism, and Cushing’s disease are all associated with weight gain.

Once you rule out a medical issue, consult with your vet to work out a plan involving diet and exercise. You may need to change your dog’s diet or eliminate extra snacks and treats until your dog resumes a healthy weight. Make sure to add in some exercise. Walk your dog briskly, working up to at least 10-15 minutes twice a day. It is also a good idea to engage him in play (with toys or a ball) a couple of times a day.

Natural supplements for pets

Most of us are trying to avoid harsh chemicals and/or uncomfortable side effects that are often the result of prescription pain medications. That goes for our four-legged children, too. Luckily, there are a handful of more natural products that may relieve joint pain. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before adding natural products into your dog’s routine.


In Hattie’s case, we used a recipe including turmeric. Curcumin, a substance in turmeric, may help reduce inflammation in the body. Turmeric can also be applied to the skin as an antioxidant to reduce pain and swelling.

CBD oil

Another natural supplement gaining popularity for its ability to reduce joint pain and increase activity is CBD. According to the PetMD post, CBD for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know, research has shown that administering 2 mg/kg of CBD oil twice a day can provide substantial pain relief in dogs with arthritis. CBD oil works by regulating pain and inflammation via the endocannabinoid system.


Another remedy that can be given to your pooch preventatively, even before joint pain becomes apparent, is Omega-3 fatty acids. Found in fish or krill oil, omega-3s can promote healthy joint lubrication and reduce inflammation and pain in dogs.

Massage for dogs

I know you are rolling your eyes now. Wouldn’t we all like a massage? But massage has benefits for your dog and you!!! Aside from being a wonderful bonding experience, massage can calm and relax your dog while lowering your own heart rate and blood pressure. While dog massage for arthritis should be done by a professional, some gentle compression can be done at home to keep an aging dog’s muscles loose and flexible.

Dr. Becky Brandenburg, Ohio-based certified animal massage therapist says, “Dogs are like us—they are living longer. There are certain inevitabilities with age, but we can make our dogs more comfortable.” See PetMD’s post, 4 Simple Dog Massage Therapy Techniques for step-by-step instructions on how to deliver a calming massage to your dog. 

Keep your pet feeling young!

It’s important to see your vet if your pet is experiencing joint pain that is interfering with basic life activities such as walking and using the bathroom. But it is good to know that you have options for natural remedies for keeping your pet comfortable if inflammation occurs. While natural remedies may still have some side effects, they are generally less severe. And some of the natural remedies listed here (like exercise and massage) may have benefits for you as well!

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