Caring For a Dog with Arthritis
Many dogs suffer from arthritis, whether it is because of an injury to a joint, or just because of wear and tear on aging joints. It’s a painful condition that can affect your canine companion’s quality of life. There are several things you can do to make life easier for your arthritic dog, and they don’t take much time or effort on your part.
- Modify your dog’s environment. If you have wood, tile or other slippery flooring, it can be difficult for your dog to walk on. Use rugs and carpets in the main areas of your home so your dog feels more secure on his feet. A ramp can be useful to make it easier to climb stairs. If your dog likes to jump on the couch for a cuddle, then you may want to give him a soft cushion at your feet so he is comfortable but still feels close to you. When it is time for a car trip, a ramp will avoid him trying to jump or scrabble into the car.
- Give him a soft place to sleep. Choose your dog’s bed carefully. It should be easy to get in and out of, and it should keep him off the floor. Hammock beds are good but they may be difficult for an arthritic dog to climb into. A popular bed for dogs with arthritis is an orthopedic foam bed.
- Be realistic about your dog’s weight. If he is carrying a few extra pounds, it’s harder on his sore joints. Put him on a diet so he stays in lean body condition. You can feed him a prescription weight loss food, which will make sure he gets all the nutrients he needs with less calories.
- Consider the use of natural therapies. Supplements can help to keep his joints healthy. Glucosamine, fish oil and green lipped mussel extracts can be very helpful in treating arthritis in dogs. They are very safe and can be used with other treatments if needed. If your dog doesn’t respond well to one supplement, try another one to see if it works better for him. Many people claim that acupuncture makes their arthritic dog feel much better; it is certainly worth a try if you have a veterinary acupuncturist in your area.
- Gentle exercise will help to keep his joints mobile and maintain his muscle bulk. Swimming is an excellent choice because he can exercise without weight bearing. Massage and physical therapy can also be helpful.
- There are few research papers that show laser treatment does work in animals. However, many veterinarians can share their own experiences that suggest it is effective in easing pain in dogs. It appears particularly useful in managing chronic arthritis, as well as sudden injuries such as ligament strains. It has also been used to treat ear inflammation, bladder inflammation, and skin wounds. Wherever there is inflammation, laser treatment may be useful.
- Arthritis is a painful condition, and your dog may benefit greatly from pain relief medication. Some pain relieving drugs can have side effects so it’s important that you know what to expect when you give them to your dog, and that you contact your vet if you think your dog has a problem with them.
Arthritis needn’t ruin your dog’s enjoyment of life. With just a few changes to your lifestyle, and his, he’ll be more mobile and pain free.