How to Help a Dog with Arthritis
Arthritis can be a painful and challenging condition for dogs. 1 in 5 dogs will suffer with osteoarthritis, age being the main reason for the condition. So how can we help a dog with arthritis? Here are some lifestyle ideas, to be used alongside veterinary advice, to make your dog as comfortable as possible in their everyday life.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis refers to the joint becoming swollen. This is as a result of rubbing of the bone against the bone or joint. Resulting in extra bone forming, the joint can become more painful, stiff and immobile. Arthritis is more common in large breeds of dogs due to the weight of their body. Smaller dogs, like Boston terriers, can also less commonly suffer with the condition, particularly in old age. You may notice your dog become stiff when they move, or moving slowly. They may move cautiously, particularly when getting up or laying down. A vet will be able to diagnose the condition and suggest maintenance and treatment for your dog.
Choose a quality food:
All dogs, but more particularly dogs suffering from joint pains, need a diet that is fresh and nutritious. The diet should ideally contain meat, bone, and cartilage which provides a lot of calcium, chondroitin, glucosamine, and other minerals essential for good joint health. You can use either a pre-made raw dog food or make it fresh at home. Adding fresh oily sardines can provide the much-need joint lubrication. For those not wanting to feed raw, consider using a pet food comparison tool to select a really high quality alternative.
Maintain a good weight:
Having considered the best possible dog food, consider your dog’s weight. We can love our dogs through food and this can lead to obesity. It is very important for dogs with inflamed joints to be lean as it reduces the weight off their joints. Consult your vet on a suitable weight for your dog. Tailor food amounts based on your dog’s age, breed and lifestyle.
If your dog does needs to lose weight, do this sensibly and slowly. Make sure it is by eating smarter. Reducing the weight of your dog is the most inexpensive way of managing arthritis.
Consider an anti-inflammatory supplement:
Starting supplement such as glucosamine or Omega 3 may help relieve the symptoms and pain in some dogs. They are also thought to slow down the degenerative process. There is no scientific proof of the impact of these supplements but many owners have seen beneficial results from using them. Similarly, acupuncture may offer pain relief. Again, consult your vet for a recommended quality supplement or practitioner.
National anti inflammatory food can be added in small amounts to your dog’s food as they get older. For example,
- Pumpkin or sweet potato
- blueberries, apple (no pips)
- broccoli, kale, spinach or cauliflower
- fish rich in good fats such as salmon, sardines or mackerel
- coconut oil (small amount), flaxseed oil and Omega 3 oils
- Spices such as turmeric, cinnamon and parsley.
Though it is important to stay active, certain types of exercise are hard work for the joints. Running on hard surfaces and jumping should be limited. Your vet may also suggest alternative types of exercise that take the pressure off the joints, for example hydrotherapy.
You may wish to deter your dog from climbing stairs or jumping into the car etc. Restrict any activity that puts a lot of pressure on the joints.
Investing in a few items may help you to help your dog with arthritis. You may consider aids for high impact movements to help to manage pain, for example a ramp to get in to the car and minimal use of the stairs.
Ensuring that your dog has a comfortable bed is very important for their wellbeing. It will offer some pain relief when they lay and sleep. Consider a memory foam which they can lay in comfortably.
Take any necessary precautions to prevent your dog from falling or slipping, for example on wet surfaces or slippery flooring. This will prevent more damage and pain to their joints.
Mobility issues can be a matter of great concern for ageing dogs. Visit a vet to locate the true nature of the problem. You can then agree a treatment plan to make your dog as happy and comfortable as possible.
We hope that this has helped you to know how to help a dog with arthritis. Please share your experience in the comments below.