How To Help An Arthritic Dog
Arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a condition that affects thousands of dogs every year. It is estimated that 1 in every 5 dogs will receive this diagnosis during their lifetime, but it is likely that many more are suffering in silence.
Any fur parent who has watched their once spritely dog begin to move with stiffness, discomfort, and pain knows how heartbreaking it can be. Whether it’s caused by old age, or occurs as a result of ligament, bone, or joint injuries, canine arthritis is a progressive disease for which there is no cure.
As bleak as that sounds, not all is lost! There are many dogs diagnosed with arthritis that are able to live happily, thanks to the extra care and support of their owners. With effort and dedication, you too can help slow down the disease and give your dog the life they deserve.
Give veterinary-approved pain medication.
Pain medication is a crucial component of managing canine arthritis. If your dog is diagnosed with this condition, your vet will likely prescribe drugs for pain relief. Be sure to follow instructions carefully as improper use and dosage may cause unwanted side effects. Always use drugs prescribed by the veterinarian specifically for animal use, as some human pain relief medications are toxic to dogs.
Make adjustments to the environment.
You can ease the pain of your dog’s creaky joints by making it easier for them to move around. Situating their food and water bowls, toys, and bed within a small area can help minimize movement. Bringing all their things to the first floor gets rid of the need to go up and down the stairs. Adding mats can help give them traction on slippery surfaces so they don’t get into accidents. Providing ramps to couches and other high areas they are allowed to get to can reduce the need to jump.
Incorporate daily low-impact exercises.
Just because your dog has joint issues doesn’t mean that they should be barred from all types of physical activity. The key here is balance: You want to exercise your dog enough to keep their body and mind fit, but not too much that it will cause unnecessary joint pain and trauma. Stay clear of high-impact activities that involve running or jumping through the air. Instead, opt for controlled, short-duration, low-impact activities like underwater treadmill sessions, swimming, and short, leisurely walks. You can also keep your dog occupied with mental health exercises like learning a new trick or playing with dog puzzles toys.
Watch their weight.
Chunky, waddling dogs may look adorable, but obesity is anything but that. If your dog is overweight, you can be sure that the joints will suffer sooner rather than later. Obesity has long been associated with the development of arthritis in both humans and dogs--along a whole host of other medical issues. So, if your dog is already suffering from joint disease, the stress of carrying a few extra pounds is going to be magnified. Getting them to maintain a healthy weight can only be accomplished if everyone in your household is onboard--because no matter how strict you are with the rations, or how faithfully you adhere to their low-impact exercise routine, it’s all for naught if someone is sneaking treats under the table. Impress upon your family that keeping your dog from tipping the scale in the wrong direction is for their own good.
Give joint and anti-inflammatory supplements.
Chondroprotective supplements work in different ways to help ease arthritis. Some provide raw materials that your dog’s body can use to rebuild the cartilage, while others inhibit factors that cause cartilage destruction. Supplements can also be very helpful in minimizing the inflammatory processes that lead to the progressive degeneration of arthritic joints. alchemypet’s Immune Booster, an Agaricus blazei Murill mushroom supplement, has strong anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve the pain and swelling associated with this condition.
Consider alternative therapies.
Canine rehabilitation centers and veterinary clinics provide other options for pain management in arthritic patients. Therapeutic massage and stretching, laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, and acupuncture are some examples of innovative procedures developed by animal care specialists. To maximize the effect of these treatments, ask your vet for accredited canine rehabilitation practitioners near you.