Arthritis is a painful condition that affects our four-legged friends as much as it does humans. As with most conditions the earlier you spot there may be a problem, the quicker a treatment can be started to make your pet feel more comfortable and get them mobile again.
Signs of oncoming arthritis can include; no longer wanting to use the stairs in your home, limping after playing games and no longer being able to jump on to surfaces.
While nothing can be done to cure arthritis there have some ways you can make your dog more comfortable and keep him as mobile as possible for as long as possible.
1. Regular Check-ups at the vet
It is really important to take your dog to the vet for regular check-ups so their condition can be carefully monitored which in turn allows the vet to adjust any treatment and pain relief your pet might already be on. They may recommend upping the dose or reducing it according to their findings but keeping your vet abreast of any changes can ensure your dog stays comfortable.
2. Weight management
Making sure your dog stays active and keeps his weight healthy eases pressure on the joints. . This means carefully planning their meals and the amount of food they are given to match the sort of daily exercise they get. Even if its just two 20 minute walks a day at a slow speed, if thats all your dog can manage, any activity is better than no activity and will ensure joints seize up less.
3. Controlled, Regular Exercise
A short walk, or 30 minutes play time if that’s all your dog can manage still counts. Walking or playing on grass is also beneficial as a softer surface gives off less impact on the joints, easing the pressure on any soreness they might have. It is really important for dogs suffering from arthritis to receive the right amount of daily exercise to keep them mobile.
Your dog needs to live in optimum conditions and out of any cold and damp or draughty areas which can all make their arthritis that much worse, especially if you’ve just been walking with them outside on a cold day. Make sure they have a warm, cosy place they can retreat to and consider a hot water bottle or wheat bag to compress any joint pain.
5. Massage Therapy
You might also like to ask your vet if they would be able to recommend a qualified animal massage therapist. These therapeutic sessions can help to increase circulation, flexibility and your dog’s general well-being.
6. Pain Relief Medication
Your vet might well recommend putting your dog on some type of pain medication which could include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, more commonly known as NSAIDs. These can be successful at relieving any pain and discomfort, allowing your dog to lead a happier, more active lifestyle.
Certain supplements like glucosamine could also help improve your dog’s mobility by supporting joint function. By themselves, supplements can be non-productive but together with exercise and even pain medication, can prolong healthier joint health for a longer period of time.
8. Alternative Therapy
Acupuncture has been proven beneficial when used on dogs and other animals suffering with arthritis as well as hydrotherapy which uses water so has less impact on sore joints while still aiding mobility. This can be a great option to help your dog shed some excess weight too thanks to it having absolutely no pressure on the joints.
You may find that if your dog’s condition is very advanced, the vet might even suggest surgery – but you would need to discuss this option in-depth with them so they can explain the pros and cons of going down this invasive route. Surgery is also a risk but it can work in your dog’s favour too. Ultimately their quality of life is the most important factor.
Apart from making sure the home environment is as comfortable for your dog as possible, you may also need to set up ramps so they can get into the car, steps to make it easier for them to get onto their favourite chair. You should also remove any rugs which could be a little too slippery for your dog to walk on. Setting up an area in the house that is just theirs with easy access to the garden and their food and water bowls is crucial so that they can remain comfortable in their later years.