Dog and Cat Arthritis


Helping senior pets maintain their mobility

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition involving inflammation and loss of cartilage within your pet's joints.  This can result in painand changes to your pet's mobility. There is no single cause of arthritis but several factors may contribute including:

  • Body conformation (how a dog is built)

  • Obesity/overweight

  • Abnormal joint development (hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, luxating patellas)

  • Injuries (previous factures, ligament damage, muscle injury)

  • Surgeries (TPLO, arthroscopy)

  • Repeated high impact activity (agility, fetch, sporting dogs)

Symptoms of Arthritis

Dogs and cats can show many different symptoms when they have arthritis and commonly owners attribute these symptoms to "getting old".  Dogs and cats are very good at hiding their pain, so knowing the signs is the first step at getting them help!

  • Difficulty getting up and down

  • Walking stiffly

  • Limping in one or more legs

  • Reluctance to go up and down stairs

  • Reluctance to jump up or down (onto/off furniture)

  • Swollen joints

  • Slowing down on walks

  • Overgrooming joints or other body parts

  • Changes in posture

  • New and unexpected aggression or irritability


Healing Tails helps to relieve pain in pets suffering from arthritis to reduce their dependancy on chronic medications and maintain their mobility and independence. 


It can be very confusing to decide how to best help your pet deal with their arthritis. There is so much information out there, it can be difficult to determine what might really help, resulting in feelings of frustration and continued pain for your pet. Instead of seeking out help from friends and family or the internet, let us help you. As one of the only a few pet rehabilitation facilities in the Chicago area, we have years of experience and specific training on how to best help you and your pet. 

During your pets initial exam we will create a plan tailored specifically for their needs. We will spend time discussing your personal goals for you and your pet to make sure that everyone is on the same page and can create a plan of action to best achieve those goals. We have seen clients waste not only their time, but hundreds of dollars on solutations that don't help. We stay up to date on all the current research so that we can help recommend: 

  • The best combination of supplements

  • Home modifications to keep your pet most comfortable

  • Mobility assist devices such as harnesses or ramps 

  • The best home exercise plan

  • How to best care for your pets individual needs at home

  • A physical rehabilitation plan to help keep your pet as mobile, comfortable and independent


Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of care should I seek out for my dog with arthritis?

If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, it's best to enlist the help of a certified physical rehabilitation professional. Primary care veterinarians are great at diagnosing arthritis, but veterinarians and physical therapists who have specific training in canine rehabilitation can definitely be a great addition to your pet's care team! The additional training means that we are experts at looking for subtle areas of muscle tension and discomfort in addition to assessing your pet for loss of muscle strength. Through our assessment we can put together a complete care plan which addresses not only pain but muscle weakness and dysfunction for the best possible outcome for you and your pet.

What treatments would benefit my dog with arthritis?

During your pet’s first appointment we will perform a thorough physical examination and review their medical history to better determine which treatments would be appropriate. At Healing Tails we offer physical rehabilitation, acupuncture and chiropractic care. Depending on the severity of your pets arthritis, we may incorporate one or all of the treatments into their care plan. Our physical rehabilitation programs are very comprehensive and may combine the use of laser therapy, massage therapy, therapeutic exercise, stretching and underwater treadmill to help restore and maintain your pet's mobility.

How often do dogs with arthritis need physical rehabilitation or other treatments?

At Healing Tails, we treat every patient who walks through our door as an individual. We provide an individualized care plan based on your pets specific needs. Generally we can expect that in the early phases of the treatment process, most pets need to visit 1-2 times per week, then depending on their progress, we gradually taper the frequency of treatments. Due to the chronic nature of arthritis, it is reasonable to expect that your pet would benefit from treatments with some regular frequency to help keep them in the best condition possible.