How to manage your dog’s arthritis flare up

You’ve gone for your usual walk, or maybe this time it was a bit longer, maybe you went to the beach or even the dog park. You come home and see your dog is really sore, they’re limping more when they move, so they plonk themselves down to rest because yes they may be tired but they’re also too sore to move.

If this happens we call this a flare up – or an acute on chronic presentation of arthritis. Your heart may sink and your stomach might feel tight but DON’T PANIC! Here’s what to do!

What to do if they have a flare up

Apply an ice pack to the sore spot!

Yes I know I usually say to use heat therapy for arthritis BUT with an exacerbation/flare up of arthritis or with an acute injury, ice is best. Wrap the ice pack in a towel and apply it for 20 minutes. Make sure you supervise to ensure your dog doesn’t chew it!

Do some passive range of motion exercises.

These keep the joint moving freely and decrease stiffness and pain.

motion exercises


Using your open palm or finger tips gently massage the sore spot, as well as other areas like their neck, shoulders, back and tail!

dog gently massage

Pain relief

Ask your vet for some pain relief to use to manage flare ups, in addition to managing the chronic pain of arthritis.

Modify their daily walk

Go for gentle, short walks for the next couple of days. It might be tempting to let them rest for a few days but this issue is arthritis is a fickle beast – too little movement causes stiffness and pain but too much movement can cause a pain with a flare up so try and keep them moving. Plus they’ll love to still get outside and have a sniff!

modify daily walk

Home laser device

I love having access to a little device that I can use when Kiba or Freja are a bit sore after their activity. It’s easy to use, very cost efficient and can mean less medication and trips to the vet.  (

home laser device

How to resume their “normal” routine

You should notice they will improve in a couple of days, this is when you can start to slowly increase their activity back to their “normal”. However, be mindful that their condition may be progressing and their normal has in fact changed, their normal 45 minute walk may become 35 mins.

Need help?

If you need help to manage their pain and activity, feel free to book a 30 minute online consult here.

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