Arthritis develops in dogs for a number of reasons:
Normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear of joints can lead to arthritis later in life.
Injuries. Injuries very often lead to a dog developing arthritis later in life.
Abnormally shaped bones or cartilage. If your dog has a condition that causes abnormally shaped bones or abnormal cartilage e.g. hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia, there is a high chance they will develop arthritis in these joints.
Genetics. Unfortunately, some breeds of dog are born with a high chance of developing arthritis due to their genes. Labradors (hips and elbows), Springer Spaniels (hips and elbows), German Shepherds (spine, hips, elbows), Golden Retrievers (hips), Rottweilers (hips and elbows) and Bernese Mountain Dogs (hips and elbows) are all high risk.
Breeding schemes are in place for some of these breeds to try to improve their genetics, for example those operated by the British Veterinary Association and Kennel Club.
Arthritis is most common in old dogs due to wear and tear throughout life but it can also affect young dogs if they’ve had an injury or their joints haven’t developed properly.