Arthritis in dogs causes inflammation and swelling that can make the simplest efforts, such as walking or getting up from a nap, quite painful. Learn how you can help ease your dog’s arthritis pain and discomfort.
Arthritis in older dogs is often a result of a happy and active life, but may also result from injuries, diabetes and obesity. The most common form, osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, affects as many as one in five dogs.
If your dog has arthritis, there are several ways you can help them feel more comfortable
1. Consult your vet for effective treatments
Arthritis can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication, dietary supplements and chondroprotective agents. Your vet may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease inflammation and pain. Chondroprotective agents such as Cartrophen help the body repair cartilage and stimulate its function. Speak to your vet about whether these treatments are right for your dog.
2. Control weight and diet
Joints with arthritis deteriorate more quickly in overweight dogs. Losing weight takes some of the strain off your dog’s bones and joints. Special diets that contain omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate can also help relieve arthritic symptoms.
3. Offer a soft bed
An orthopaedic dog bed made from memory foam will help support your dog’s joints and bones. Providing a supportive bed is also very important for thin dogs, whose bones might otherwise rub uncomfortably on hard surfaces. Some pet stores sell beds made especially for dogs with arthritis.
4. Install ramps, cubes and slip-free flooring
Senior dogs can have a hard time navigating stairs, hardwood and tile floors. Ramps and cubes are available to help your dog climb stairs and get up or down from sofas. By placing rugs or carpets over slippery floors, your dog will also be much steadier on their legs.
5. Try massage and exercise
Think of all the times your faithful friend has helped you feel better. Now is an excellent time to repay the favour. Massage can increase your dog’s mobility and flexibility, improve circulation and help them relax. You can gently knead your dog’s stiff muscles (avoid putting direct pressure on your dog’s joints, which could be painful), or schedule an appointment with a professional pet massage therapist who can pamper your dog.
Even with arthritis, daily exercise helps strengthen your dog’s muscles and ligaments and reduces the risk of injury.
6. Make time for grooming
Arthritic dogs can’t clean themselves as well, especially in those hard-to-reach areas. For this reason, a senior dog should be groomed even more often than a younger one. Brush your dog’s hair regularly to get rid of matting and tangles, and remember to be gentle at all times.