Arthritis is a common ailment of older dogs, affecting one in five dogs over the age of seven. The condition affects the joints and causes pain and stiffness in the neck, hips, shoulders, elbows, and back.
However, there are many things you can do at home to bring relief and reduce the stress-related issues that come with discomfort. Change your dog’s diet. Provide a high-quality food with no added preservatives, colorings, wheat, corn, or soy, and has low fat and fewer grains or carbs.
Home-cooking to supply the best nutrition possible is my first choice but not for everyone. However, keeping your dog at a good weight for its breed and size is beneficial to overall healt and puts less pressure on the knees and hips.
Provide supplements that reduce arthritic swelling and pain. I have always seen positive results with Glucosamine Chondroitin Sulfate with my own dogs and my own personal experience as a six-time victim of Lyme’s Disease and one-time victim of Ehrlichiosis. This supplement helps lubricate the joints and eases mobility. Combined with Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) it has been shown in studies to relieve arthritic pain, slow joint deterioration and reduce inflammation with no negative side effects. As always, talk to your veterinarian before beginning any diet change or supplement.
A Body in Motion, Stays in Motion
Exercising is also important. I walk as much as I can every day and I take my dogs with me. If possible, take your dog for several 10-to-15-minute walks each day rather than one long walk. Also, if possible, take your dog swimming – a great exercise without joint stress.
Keep your dog warm and cozy with a soft bed and extra blanket. Memory foam and orthopedic beds made specifically for joint-ailing dogs. Additionally, gel filled or beds that can be heated are available. Moist heat – hot water bottle with warm water or a towel soaked in warm water and wrung out, can provide welcomed relief. Heating pads may get too hot, so supervise their use. If your dog usually stays outside, provide an insulated doghouse with soft bedding facing away from the wind. If possible, bring him in when weather is too cold or wet or too hot and humid.
Raise your dog’s food and water dish. This one’s easy enough. If your pet has arthritis in the neck or shoulders, avoid having them bend their head down to eat.
It’s so easy to make life easier for an old friend. Dogs with arthritis have difficulty walking up and down the stairs. Using a ramp can make a world of difference. For easier access to the back of your SUV, a ramp can be a great help for both of you.
And who doesn’t love a good massage? Gently rub around the affected joints and surrounding muscles. Your touch is always a welcomed treat that soothes the body and mind. Senior dogs need lots of TLC (tender loving care). Spend more quality time with them, have more patience, show more kindness. You’ll both be glad you did.