Our furry friends are part of the family, and seeing them suffer from arthritis can be heart-wrenching. Arthritis is a common condition in dogs, especially in their senior years. Around 80% of dogs over the age of 8 show signs of degenerative joint disease.
The good news is that there are ways to alleviate the pain and discomfort of arthritis in your senior dog. Let's discuss 11 ways to keep your dog comfortable.
What causes arthritis in dogs?
Arthritis is inflammation in the joints, which can lead to pain and stiffness. The cause of the joint disease can be due to genetics or as a result of injury or infection.
As dogs age, they’re more likely to suffer from arthritis because their joints naturally become less flexible with time. In any case, there are ways to manage pain and control your pet’s condition.
What things pose an obstacle for dogs with arthritis?
Many things can be an obstacle for dogs with arthritis. Some of these obstacles are stairs, jumping on and off furniture, or even walking long distances.
When dogs with arthritis engage in these activities, it can put a strain on their joints. This can make them sore and, over time, can worsen the symptoms of arthritis.
What activities should be avoided with dogs with arthritis?
It is important to avoid activities that put a strain on your dog’s joints. This includes activities such as jumping, running on hard surfaces, and climbing stairs.
Stairs can be especially difficult for dogs with arthritis due to the repetitive twisting of their joints. Additionally, long walks should not be forced when your pet has arthritis.
Instead, shorter walks around the block or playing in short bursts are recommended. In addition, if you must pick up your dog, then lifting them from underneath rather than under their arms is best to minimize discomfort.
11 Ways to Keep Your Dog Comfortable
Consider home modifications
Many modifications can be made to your home to make it easier for your dog with arthritis. If stairs are present, ramp-like devices or pet stairs can provide a gentler transition from one level to another.
Additionally, the installation of carpet runners throughout the house can help absorb shock and reduce your dog's arthritis pain when they walk. Orthopedic beds or floor mats also provide support and cushioning for their aching joints.
Finally, avoid slippery floors as this will increase discomfort while attempting to move around.
Maintain a healthy weight
Excess weight puts a lot of pressure on your dog's joints, which can worsen their arthritis symptoms. Therefore, it's crucial to keep your dog at a healthy weight by providing a balanced diet and exercise.
Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate diet and exercise plan for your dog's age, breed, and condition.Whare some tips on maintaining a healthy weight for my dog?
- Limit snacks: Try to limit your dog's intake of treats and snacks between meals.
- Monitor portion sizes: Be mindful of the size of your dog's meals to prevent overeating.
- Avoid table food: Table food can contain a lot of fat and calories, so your pup should stick with their regular kibble or wet food diet.
Provide a comfortable bed
A comfortable bed is essential for any dog, especially for dogs with arthritis. Orthopedic beds are specifically designed to support a dog's joints and relieve pressure.
You can also consider placing a ramp or steps to make it easier for your dog to get on and off the bed.
Keep your dog active
Exercise is vital for dogs with arthritis as it helps maintain their muscle mass and mobility.
However, lower-impact activities are better for dogs with arthritis. Avoid high-impact activities such as jumping and running, as they can worsen the condition.
What are some activities I can do with a dog with arthritis?
There are many activities you can do with your dog to keep them active and healthy, such as:
- Swimming: Swimming is a great low-impact activity for dogs of all ages, especially those with arthritis. Not only does it reduce the strain on their joints, but it also helps strengthen their muscles and improve coordination.
- Walking: Taking your pooch for regular walks will help improve their mobility and flexibility while strengthening their muscles at the same time. Just be sure to take it slow and avoid any sudden turns or stops that could hurt their joints.
- Low-impact playtime: Playtime is important for keeping your dog’s spirits high, even if they have arthritis. Owners are encouraged to have a low-impact playtime, such as a gentle fetch, to keep their dog's body and mind healthy.
Many natural supplements can support healthy joints by helping to rebuild cartilage, lubricate the joints, and promote overall joint health.
However, it's always best to consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any supplements.
What are the best supplements to support joint health?
The best supplements to support dogs with joint health are glucosamine and chondroitin, as they can help reduce inflammation and promote overall joint health.
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, is also known to be beneficial for joint health. You can find most supplements for dogs online or in stores.
Avoid cold weather
Extreme temperatures can worsen the symptoms of arthritis in dogs, so avoid taking your pet out in cold weather for too long or without the proper attire. This is because cold temperatures can cause joint tissues to become stiff and inflamed, which can make movement more painful.
Cold temperatures also reduce blood flow to the joints, which can worsen arthritis symptoms. Therefore, it's best to avoid taking your pet out in cold weather if possible. Be mindful and stay prepared for the upcoming seasons.
How can I keep my dog warm?
You can keep your dog warm by providing a cozy bed and warm blankets, and considering a dog sweater or jacket for outdoor walks.
You can also consider purchasing an electric blanket that is specifically designed for dogs. Additionally, make sure to keep your home at a comfortable temperature (68-72 degrees Fahrenheit) to help keep your pup comfy while indoors.
Stairs can be a major obstacle for dogs with arthritis, as the repetitive twisting of their joints increases pain and discomfort.
Therefore, it's best to avoid stairs if possible and plan your trips with your dog accordingly. If you must use stairs, consider installing a ramp as mentioned or even carrying your dog if needed.
Aside from avoiding toxic foods, the right diet can help maintain a healthy body through weight management and reduce inflammation in the joints. Avoid human foods and look into natural diets that provide optimal nutrition for your dog's age, size, and condition.
Massage therapy and acupuncture
Massage therapy can help alleviate discomfort in dogs with arthritis. Massages help increase blood flow, release tension in the muscles affected joints, and improve mobility.
Additionally, acupuncture has been used for centuries to help treat various ailments, including arthritis in dogs.
Acupuncture works by stimulating certain points along the body’s meridians to alleviate pain and promote healing. While it isn't a cure for arthritis, many dogs find relief from their symptoms after regular acupuncture treatments.
How can I perform massage therapy on my dog with arthritis?
When massaging your dog's painful joints, you should focus on their neck, hips, and back. Start by gently applying pressure in a circular motion and gradually increase the pressure as needed.
You can also use slow strokes from the spine outward to help loosen tense muscles. Remember to avoid high pressure directly where the arthritic joint is located, as this can cause further discomfort.
Pain relief medication
In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe pain relief medication to help manage your dog’s arthritis symptoms. Pain relief medications can help by controlling pain, reducing inflammation, and providing temporary relief from the discomfort of arthritis.
Only give your dog medications as prescribed by a veterinarian. More importantly, look out for any side effects.
Regular vet checkups are an essential part of managing arthritis in dogs. A veterinarian can monitor your dog's condition, adjust the treatment plan accordingly, and provide advice on how to manage the dog's pain while at home.
How can I prevent arthritis from happening in my dog?
Arthritis is a common condition in dogs, especially as they age. However, there are ways to help prevent or slow down the development of canine arthritis now.
Maintaining an ideal weight, exercising regularly, and providing a balanced diet can all help reduce the risk of arthritis in your pet. Additionally, regular vet checkups will help ensure that any signs of joint problems are caught early and treated accordingly.
Dog owners should be aware of any changes in their pet's behavior and contact a veterinarian if needed. Early diagnosis and intervention can help minimize the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
Arthritis is a challenging condition for both dogs and owners, but it doesn't have to take away your dog's quality of life. By following the tips mentioned above, you can help keep your furry friend comfortable, happy, and active.
Remember to always consult your veterinarian for advice on how to manage your dog's arthritis effectively.