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What You Need To Know About Arthritis in Your Older German Shepherd

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

(Post may contain affiliate links.)

Unfortunately, arthritis in older German Shepherds is a common condition that affects their joints. It can lead to pain, which makes it difficult for them to get around or even stand up without causing discomfort. What does arthritis look like in an older German Shepherd? There can be one telltale sign or several such as limping, stiffness, trouble getting up or standing, visible swollen, hot joints, not wanting to be active, having issues navigating certain surfaces like hardwood floors, an unusually arched back, or other posture changes, and being snappish to name a few. Fortunately, there are many treatments available, but sadly, no cure. At Woody's Place Senior German Shepherd Sanctuary, we find that the best thing you can do for your older German Shepherd is to keep them as active as possible and help relieve their symptoms with supplements, high-quality CBD oil, massage therapy, or other therapies, and medication when needed. Here are some ways you can help your older German Shepherd:

1) Keep their weight under control by providing a healthy, human-grade diet and plenty of age-appropriate exercises. We do short, frequent walks on mostly level ground throughout the day here at the sanctuary, weather pending. We also try to let the dogs swim and wade in a local lake when possible.

2) Incorporate herbs and supplements like Turmeric, glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate, collagen, and an Omega 3 fatty acid, which can help reduce pain and stiffness. We love The Missing Link Collagen Care Soft Chew Nutritional Treats for Dogs - Collagen, Glucosamine, Chondroitin & Turmeric - Mobility & Anti-Inflammatory Support - Hip & Joint, and so do our residents! It's easy to give as a treat or put right in with their food.

3) Provide a warm bed with extra padding. Not all dog beds are created equal! Seriously, our dogs spend most of their lives lying down, often on a hard surface such as a floor, which, as you can imagine, isn't very comfortable and can even be downright hurtful for older dogs with arthritis. So doesn't it make sense to spend a little extra on a supportive dog bed for your older German Shepherd that's A) going to keep them comfortable and B) will last a long time (provided your dog is not destructive)? We have many dog beds here at the sanctuary, but by far, our favorite is Big Barker 7" Pillow Top Orthopedic Dog Bed for Large and Extra Large Breed Dogs. This bed is so comfortable that I have put two together and laid down on it myself with the dogs. :)

4) Eliminate stairs and jumping as much as possible. I know this isn't possible for those with stairs in their home, but stairs are not a friend to an older German Shepherd with arthritis. Each step causes them pain. And they are even at greater risk of falling on the stairs, which can lead to a bigger, potentially costly problem. The same goes for jumping in and out of a car or truck. We only have one or two steps here, and if it is too much for one of our residents, we assist them with a ramp and harness. The same goes for getting in and out of a car or truck. We NEVER let them jump out. We also assist with a ramp if needed or lift the resident in and out. We use the Pet Loader because it's easy to use, stores nicely, and provides our residents with a solid, stable surface on which they feel comfortable walking. 5) If you have hard flooring like hardwood or tile, be sure to have lots of area rugs, particularly where your older German Shepherd is most likely to walk. If you want to go with area rugs, check out for washable rugs. We also use anti-fatigue mats, yoga mats, and even rolls of rubber nonadhesive shelf liner for this purpose. The yoga mats, which can also be purchased in rolls and shelf liners, are easy for your dog to walk on and easy for you to clean if he or she has an accident on it.

6) Therapy. Several therapies can be applied to help an older German Shepherd with arthritis, and we try to be eclectic with treatment because what works for one of our residents may not work for another. Here is a breakdown of different therapies that can help your arthritic older German Shepherd: a) Hydrotherapy. Check out our Miss Brandi giving it a go

Hydrotherapy helps dogs work their joints and maintain muscle mass while minimizing discomfort. b) Laser therapy helps reduce inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain that can all be associated with arthritis. c) Massage and I don't mean a simple back rub. It's probably best to find a canine-certified massage therapist in your area, as you could do more harm than good if you aren't sure what you are doing. But if you can't afford a canine massage therapist, here is a link to some basic canine massage techniques that you can try at home: We also purchased a Pet Wave massager to help with poor circulation, which can often be associated with arthritis. d) CBD Oil. I feel this should be a blog post in and of itself, and maybe it will later on down the road, but I will cut to the chase for this blog post. Not all CBD oil is created equal. There’s a lot of crap out there, so you have to know what you are buying to ensure the comfort you seek for your older German Shepherd is actually in the bottle you're buying, and so you’re not just throwing your money out the window. We have done just that, and it doesn’t feel good.

What we have found to work are Dr. HempDog hemp oil tinctures.

They have a great article on how you can help your dog navigate arthritis naturally. You can read it here:

And if you would like to try it, you can get 10% off on us by going to: and enter discount code "WOODYSPLACE" 6) And lastly, you may get to the point where you need to incorporate an NSAD, other painkillers, and possibly injections into your older German Shepherd's regimen, which in my opinion, should be put off as long as possible because they can have a host of negative issues in your senior German Shepherd as well. If your older German Shepherd has arthritis, there is hope. Joint pain can be managed by all the tips in this blog post.

To listen to the coinciding podcast, click on the link:

***** Disclaimer: Throughout the "20 Most Common Health Issues in Senior German Shepherds" series, each blog post is expressed explicitly from our point of view and is not to be substituted for the professional medical expertise of your trusted veterinarian.


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