Arthritis means inflammation of the joints and is in no doubt just as uncomfortable for our dogs as it is for humans. There are many reasons a dog would eventually develop arthritis, it could result from an old injury or simply through wear and tear as they grow old.
There are many reasons a dog would eventually develop arthritis, it could result from an old injury or simply through wear and tear as they grow old.
What are the symptoms that my dog has Arthritis?
All dogs are different, and signs of arthritis can vary from dog to dog and throughout the dog’s life. Things that were once easy might now be difficult for your dog.
- Limping or stiffness, especially after sitting or lying down for a long period of time.
- No interest in playing a game like fetch.
- Stairs have become a challenge or are climbed much slower with possible pauses.
- Sleeping or resting more than usual.
- Repeated licking at a potentially painful joint.
- Aggression or irritation when they’re touched, especially around the areas affected.
How Can you help your Dog?
There is no cure for arthritis in dogs, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be comfortable for the rest of their life.
- If you speak to your vet and they diagnose your dog with arthritis they will prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine.
- Keep them at a healthy weight so there’s no unnecessary strain on their joints.
- It’s important that they remain active to prevent your dog’s joints from stiffening up, but you should avoid any excessive running or jumping.
- Make sure they have a warm, comfortable bed to rest on, away from any drafty areas.
Many dogs with arthritis live pain-free, or at least comfortable, lives. Even if your dog can no longer climb onto the sofa, you can still sit on the floor with them so that they don’t feel left out. If they’re unable to get upstairs, why not spend more time downstairs? You might not be able to throw a ball for them on your walks, but you can still invest in doggy puzzles to keep them mentally stimulated.
If you’re unsure if your dog is suffering from arthritis or is showing worrying symptoms you should always speak to your vet and they’ll be able to help you and give you advice.
Ways to Help an Arthritic Dog
When your dog is in pain, you want to help him feel better — fast. Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do to relieve the aches that are an everyday occurrence for dogs with arthritis:
- Take your dog in for regular checkups so that your veterinarian can monitor your pet’s arthritis and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.
- Getting or keeping your dog slim can help by decreasing the load on his joints. Your best bet: feeding your dog the right amount of high-quality food.
- Controlled exercise is a must, but make sure you carefully monitor your dog while she plays, walks, or runs. If possible, find a soft surface for activity. Your veterinarian can offer more suggestions for getting your dog moving regularly.
- As much as possible, keep your dog warm and dry, since cold and damp conditions can aggravate arthritis. Consider investing in a padded dog bed and apply warm compresses to painful joints.
- Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation to a professional animal massage therapist, as massage can increase your dog’s flexibility, circulation, and sense of well-being.
- Pain medication, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (commonly called NSAIDs), may help relieve pain, and disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs (DMOADs) can also play an important role. Talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog any medication.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can be used to help improve joint mobility and support better joint functioning for dogs with arthritis.
- Acupuncture isn’t just for people. This painless technique has shown some success in animals suffering from arthritis.
- If your dog’s arthritis is advanced, surgery may be an option. Ask your veterinarian about the pros and cons of surgery and what you can expect.
- Be sure to take steps to adjust his environment at home. Some things that can help an arthritic dog include: providing soft supportive bedding for his achy joints, using ramps to help a dog get in and out of a car or up to a bed, and putting down carpeting and secure rugs to help him get traction as he walks.
Remember: A low-stress environment, plenty of affection, and supportive care can help your dog feel so much better.