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 dog food with no added preservatives, colorings, wheat, corn or soy, and has low fat and fewer grains or carbs. 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.

Exercising is also important. 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. Beds made specifically for joint-ailing dogs are gel filled or can be heated. 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.

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.

And who doesn’t love a good massage? Gently rub around the affected joint and surrounding muscles.Your touch is always a welcomed treat that soothes the body and mind. Finally, use a ramp since dogs with arthritis have difficulty walking up and down the stairs. Using a ramp for easier access to the back of your SUV can be a great help for both of you.

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.