Canine Arthritis: 10 Ways to Make Your Senior Pet More Comfortable
If your dog is more than seven years old, there’s a 65% chance that they have arthritis. However, the unfortunate reality is that it’s not only older dogs who experience the aches and pains of arthritic joints – roughly one out of every five adult dogs, no matter their age, suffer from arthritis too.
Despite the frequency of this disease, many dog owners may be unaware of how to properly care for their dog’s arthritis symptoms or how to keep their beloved canine more comfortable throughout the day.
Here, we’ve gathered ten ways to keep the pains of canine arthritis at bay. From natural supplements to simple mobility improvements, all of these tips will help to ensure that your four-legged friend can live a comfortable, fulfilling life despite his arthritis.
Of course, if your dog is struggling with arthritis, make sure to get advice from your vet as well.
10 Ways to Make Your Senior Pet More Comfortable
1. Weight Loss
For every extra kilo of weight, your dog’s joints will experience more and more stress. One of the best and most straightforward ways to reduce your dog’s arthritis pain for the long term is to slim down your pup with a carefully controlled diet and exercise. Speak to your vet about getting your dog to their ideal weight safely.
2. Natural Supplements
Some of the best supplements to help with arthritis in dogs are all-natural! Joint supplements exist in many forms, many of which contain a substance called glucosamine. This naturally occurring compound promotes cartilage repair in your dog’s joints. While a dog’s body will create glucosamine naturally, this production slows down with age and makes it more difficult for your dog to maintain his own joint health without your help.
Research has also shown that taking MethylSulfonylMethane/MSM, alone or in combination with Glucosamine Sulphate, can help reduce pain and swelling.
You can find these supplements as treats for senior dogs, or in formulations with particularly high glucosamine content for dogs already diagnosed with arthritis.
3. Supportive Beds
Buying an orthopaedic bed for your dog (one made of memory foam, for example) can make all the difference in the world by helping your pup to get a better night’s rest and take the pressure off their joints while they sleep.
4. Gentle Exercise
The Canine Health Foundation suggests gentle exercise as a reliable way to reduce the aches and pains associated with canine arthritis. Generally, taking a couple of 15-20 minute walks each day is preferable to a single, longer walk. Swimming is the most ideal exercise for a dog with arthritis due to its low impact factor.
5. Clean Space
Keeping your floors clean, dry, and free of mess ensures that your dog has safe places to roam. Arthritis can cause mobility issues which make it easier for your four-legged housemate to slip and fall, so take extra care to prevent clutter which might lead to injury.
Reduce the stress placed on joints from jumping or climbing stairs, but allow your dog to reach all of his favourite places by using a ramp whenever your pup needs a leg up. A gently sloping ramp into your car or onto your bed (if your dog sleeps with you) will greatly reduce the shock and pain brought to the joints with each leap up and down.
7. Regular Veterinary Care
No one knows dog arthritis treatment better than your veterinarian, which is why it’s crucial to schedule regular appointments with a professional. Your vet can confirm that you are taking the appropriate steps to make your arthritic pup as comfortable as possible. Your vet will also clue you in on additional measures you can adopt, as well as warning signs of worsening arthritis and what you can do to reduce pain as your dog ages.
8. Warm and Cold Compresses
Both warm and cold compresses can make a world of difference in canine comfort, but ensure that you know when to use heat and when to use cold. For example, use a warm compress before walks and exercise to loosen your dog’s joints. Heat causes increased blood flow and joint healing, and the warmth will be soothing to your pet, too.
On days when your dog’s joints are so swollen that you can feel heat radiating from them, use a cold compress to relieve pain caused by inflammation.
9. Raised Dishes
Because dogs with arthritic joints in their neck or back may have difficulty stooping to reach their food and water bowls, ensure that these dishes are elevated for easy access. A myriad of elevated pet feeders can be found online or at your local pet supply store.
10. Joint Massage
Try gently massaging your dog’s joints to increase blood flow and rub away the aches. For a more professional approach, ask your veterinarian about animal massage therapists in your area, who are professionally trained to work with animals and improve their flexibility, well-being, and quality of life with massage.
While these are all proven ways to increase your dog’s comfort, the best source of information for dealing with your dog’s arthritis is your veterinarian’s office. Always let your vet know before you make major changes to your dog’s diet or begin using arthritis supplements. A bit of extra care and precaution can go a long way, and your dog will surely thank you for it!
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