Bulldog Arthritis and Pain

By: Dr. Roy Kraemer |
DVM, Bulldog Specialist Veterinarian

Arthritis and arthritic pain in English Bulldogs, and French Bulldogs are progressive, degenerative diseases that worsen over time. Arthritis affects the smooth, articular cartilage of your bulldog’s joints, which is responsible for protecting the joint’s bony surface and facilitating smooth, painless movement

Arthritic pain arises from inflammation in one or more joints, commonly called osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD).

  • Arthritis gets worse over time 
  • Arthritis affects the cartilage that protects the bones in the joint
  • Arthritis is inflammation in the joints that causes pain 

Arthritic pain arises from



Arthritis and Arthritic Pain in Bulldogs CAUSE:

When the cartilage in your bulldog’s joints becomes injured and worn down, the bone loses its protective covering. This exposes the bare bone surfaces, which rub against each other during activities such as walks, stair climbing, and playing. This friction leads to inflammation and a condition known as “bone on bone,” which can cause pain and discomfort for your bulldog

Arthritic pain arises from inflammation and damage within the joints, which can result from various causes, including:

  • wear and tear (osteoarthritis)
  • autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis)
  • infections
  • trauma

arthritic bulldog knee


Joints are protected by cartilage, which cushions the ends of the bones and allows for smooth movement. Arthritis leads to the breakdown of this cartilage, causing the bones to rub against each other, causing pain

bulldog carpus and digit arthritis


The body’s response to cartilage degradation and bone rubbing is to increase blood flow to the area, leading to inflammation. This inflammatory process involves the production of various chemicals and enzymes that further break down cartilage and irritate the joint lining, causing swelling, warmth, and pain.


As arthritis progresses, the constant inflammation and cartilage loss can lead to changes in the bone itself, such as the development of bone spurs (osteophytes). These spurs can exacerbate pain by increasing the friction within the joint or by impinging on surrounding tissues.


In a healthy joint, synovial fluid provides lubrication, reducing friction. In arthritic joints, the quality and quantity of synovial fluid can decrease, and the inflamed synovial membrane can produce fluid that’s less effective at lubricating, further contributing to pain.


As the joint structure changes and becomes less stable, the ligaments and tendons around the joint can become strained. This strain, along with the compensatory mechanisms animals (or humans) adopt to relieve pain or improve function, can lead to additional discomfort and pain.


Chronic pain and inflammation often lead to a decrease in activity, which can result in muscle weakness and atrophy. This loss of muscle support for the joint can lead to further instability and pain.

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therapeutic for bulldogs in pain

 Arthritis and Arthritic Pain in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs MAIN FACTORS:

Many factors can lead to arthritis in bulldogs, including:

  • Obesity: Excess weight places added stress on the joints, increasing the risk of arthritis
  • Genetics: 
  • Aging: As bulldogs age, the wear and tear on their joints can lead to the development of arthritis
  • Joint infection
  • Immune system disorders: Conditions that affect the immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can also lead to joint inflammation and arthritis in bulldogs.
  • Overexertion: High-impact activities or excessive exercise can strain the joints and lead to arthritis.
  • Traumatic injury (resulting from car accidents or other physical trauma)
  • Cranial cruciate ligament rupture
  • Medial patella luxation
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia

Bulldog Arthritis SYMPTOMS:

Bulldogs and French Bulldogs suffering from arthritis and arthritic pain will generally display noticeable signs.

These signs/symptoms include:

  • SWELL & HEAT: Swollen warm joints
  • LIMP: Lameness & abnormal gate
  • MUSCLE ATROPHY: muscle disuse atrophy.
  • CRACKS: There is sometimes a noticeable cracking sound when the affected joint(s) are in motion.
  • MOVEMENT: inactivity,  difficulty getting up/down
    • depress
    • aggressive
    • sleepless

As pain increases, your bulldog’s will and ability to move, and exercise decreases.

Eng Bulldog V4B comfort and Painless handout

Arthritis and Arthritic Pain in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs PREVENTION:

Arthritis can be prevented, and managed by:

  • WEIGHT CONTROL: lean body weight
  • EXERCISE: low-impact activities like swimming and off-road walks for muscle tone and bone strength.


Preventing your bulldog puppy from developing arthritic conditions can often be achieved with non-prescription therapeutic supplements.

bulldog hemp mobility for pain and comfort

EARLY START: Bulldog arthritis prevention success requires that you start the supplements early, as early as a few months old

LIFE LONG: In addition to the early start, prevention and maintenance success require that you continue to control your weight, and provide a quality diet and supplementation.

Therapeutic bully supplements can help slow down the joint degenerative process and manage pain

therapeutic joint supplement for bulldogs ACL tear

Prevention and early treatment of arthritis in bulldogs, as in any breed, is crucial for maximizing the chances of a full recovery of joint motion. Arthritis, characterized by inflammation and degeneration of the joints, can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility if left untreated. With prompt intervention such as medication, physical therapy, weight management, and possibly surgery, the progression of arthritis can be slowed or even reversed in some cases, allowing the dog to regain mobility and enjoy a better quality of life.

Bulldog and Fr. Bulldog Arthritis & Pain Prescription RX

  1. NSAID: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and analgesics are often prescribed, they are similar to aspirin but safer.
  2. PAIN RELIVERS: like gabapentin can help with mild pain. Tramadol is also often used, though it’s not a true analgesic, it affects the mood, not pain.

Dr. Kraemer’s Arthritis and Pain in Bulldogs TIPS & WARNINGS:

Below are selective arthritis tips & warnings courtesy of Dr. Kraemer


Treating arthritic pain in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs can be approached in multiple ways, depending on the severity of the case and the age of your bulldog.

Addressing obesity is a significant factor in managing arthritis. Putting your bulldog on a special veterinary-recommended nutritional diet to promote weight loss, along with implementing proper and moderate exercise, can be very helpful in alleviating arthritic pain and slowing down the progression of the disease.

fit healthy bulldog after weight loss


I now offer non-pharmaceutical treatment modalities that treat inflammation and pain and are highly effective, low-cost, non-invasive, and pain-free with no adverse effects. These modalities include

These non-invasive procedures are highly beneficial because they are not harmful to your pet and offer a long-term solution to the suffering and pain that can come with arthritis

Regenerative Medicine

stem cells forming into bone



Stem cell therapy is a cutting-edge regenerative medicine technology that uses your pet’s healthy natural repair cells to regenerate the cells in an affected area.

This self-healing, anti-inflammatory, pain relief treatment is called Stem Cell Therapy and it can also be stored for future treatments (Cryobanking)

stem cell therapy for pets


While corticosteroids like Prednisone can be effective for reducing inflammation and providing temporary pain relief in bulldogs with advanced arthritis, they do come with a range of potential long-term adverse effects. These effects can include an increased risk of

  • infections
  • altered blood sugar levels
  • increased thirst and urination
  • possible behavioral changes,
  • hepatic lipidosis
  • other

Due to these potential side effects, their use is often limited to short-term management or in cases where other treatments have failed to provide relief.

For managing chronic arthritis and providing long-term pain relief to bulldogs and other pets, many veterinarians recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) designed specifically for animals. These NSAIDs are generally safer for long-term use and can effectively manage the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Examples include carprofen, meloxicam, and deracoxib, among others.


It’s important to note that all medications can have side effects, so pets on any long-term medication for arthritis should be closely monitored. This typically involves regular check-ups to assess the pet’s liver and kidney function and to make any necessary adjustments to their treatment plan.

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The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding any medical condition. It's important to always consider professional medical advice promptly and not to delay seeking it based on information you've read on this platform. Any reliance on the information provided here is entirely at your discretion.

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