How to Care for a Dog with Arthritis
About 65% of dogs between the ages of 7 and 11 have some degree of arthritis, and while it’s more common in older dogs, it can appear in dogs of almost any age, especially if the dog has suffered a joint injury.
Arthritis (also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease) is caused by the breaking down of smooth cartilage that covers and protects the bones that form a joint, leading to pain and inflammation in a dog’s joints.
If you notice your dog exhibiting any of the following symptoms, your dog may have arthritis:
– Walking stiffly
– Limping or favoring certain limbs
– Showing stiffness or discomfort when getting up from a lying-down position
– Seeming to experience pain when touched in certain areas
– Seeming to find certain positions uncomfortable or painful
– Being hesitant to jump, run or climb stairs
If you’re not sure if your dog has arthritis, you can have your veterinarian conduct a physical exam, take radiographs and perform other diagnostic tests to help determine the cause of your dog’s pain.
If your dog does have arthritis, the next step is to work with your veterinarian to create a program to minimize your dog’s pain while keeping your dog healthy.
In most cases, a healthy diet and regular low impact exercise are beneficial.
Most pet owners are surprised to learn that there are a variety of holistic remedies that can significantly help with arthritis.
For example, Holistic Veterinary Care provides exceptional programs, including hands-on therapy, an underwater treadmill, heated pool therapy, therapeutic ultrasound, nutritional counseling, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and cold laser therapy, to name a few.
Here are some other ways to make your dog more comfortable:
1. Have short, gentle play sessions. Dogs with arthritis should engage daily in low-impact activities such as walking or swimming.
2. Provide your dog with gentle massages and physical therapy.
3. Place food and water bowls on a low table or crate — or in a raised feeder — to avoid neck and spine strain.
4. Get a portable dog ramp to allow your dog access to the car or other areas where she’ll have to jump or climb.
5. Re-evaluate your dog’s bedding. Providing soft bedding or a firm orthopedic foam bed could be more comfortable.
Keep in mind that many diseases, such as arthritis, kidney disease, and even some cancers begin slowly in ways that do not significantly affect the quality of life of your pet. When left unchecked however, these conditions can slowly smolder until they flare up and become major medical issues that can shorten both the quality and length of life of your pet.
Taking steps to catch and treat medical problems early and aggressively is an excellent way to stay ahead of disease.
Unfortunately, far too often, pet owners come to us for help when it’s already too late.
That’s why we’ve put together The Senior Pet Resource Guide with award-winning veterinarian, Dr. Gary Richter!
If you have a dog or cat over 7 years of age, definitely take a moment to check this out!