Arthritis & Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Hearing that your dog has arthritis or osteoarthritis can be devastating, because we know that it is a progressive, degenerative disease that worsens over time. By the majority of estimates, 20% of all dogs (regardless of age) are affected by arthritis in some for or another. Once a dog is diagnosed with arthritis, it is important to understand that the focus is management rather than cure. You want to maximize your dog’s comfort and function, while minimizing pain.
The good news is that there are many strategies, both big and small, to treat Arthritis & Osteoarthritis in Dogs
How to Treat Arthritis & Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Treats that address symptoms of Arthritis & Osteoarthritis are available. Consider Doc’s Hip & Joint Hemp Treats, to address the cause and treat the symptoms of Arthritis & Osteoarthritis in dogs.
Dedicate a journal or notebook to your dog’s ongoing health/medical issues, and write down all your questions as you think of them. Take your notebook to all veterinary visits to record answers to your questions, as well as to note details of any updated veterinary recommendations. It is difficult to remember all the information that is provided at veterinary appointments, so writing it all down makes sense so that you can refer back to it later.
Weight Management for Arthritis & Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Yes, it can. If your dog is carrying extra weight, work with your veterinarian to plan a weight-loss strategy to help your dog become lean and keep him that way. Your veterinarian will prescribe a diet that will provide joint support and help your dog lose weight. Ask for specific portion recommendations, and schedule regular weigh-ins to monitor success.
With Osteoarthritis joints, we know that dogs need to ’use it or lose it’. Regular moderate exercise contributes to better joint health, even in the face of Arthritis or Osteoarthritis. Ask your veterinarian for specific guidance on how far and long to walk, acceptable walking surfaces, and specific exercises that can target and strengthen muscle groups.
Medications, nutraceuticals, or supplements
Use all products strictly as instructed/labeled. Do not modify delivery/dosing of prescription medications except under the direction of your veterinarian. Be sure to ask for a written summary of potential side effects, and monitor your dog carefully. If you see any adverse side effects from medications, contact your veterinarian immediately. Discuss any over-the-counter supplements with your veterinarian. Some may be harmful for your dog based on his specific health needs or may interact with other medications your veterinarian recommends.
Continue to monitor your dog’s symptoms, as Arthritis & Osteoarthritis in dogs is likely to progress with time, and a change in drug selection or dosage or further surgical intervention may become necessary. Limit activity to a level that will not aggravate symptoms and pain. In addition, a diet including omega fatty acids is sometimes recommended to decrease inflammation. You may also want to explore Physical Therapy to complement pharmaceuticals (drugs), nutrition, and nutraceuticals to help your dog with Osteoarthritis. Physical medicine options include physical rehabilitation, acupuncture, chiropractic, laser therapy, regenerative medicine, and medical massage. It is important to work with appropriately qualified and credentialed individuals, so seek your veterinarian’s guidance for a referral. Physical medicine may allow for decreased doses of medication over time by helping to restore more normal movement and strength in the dog’s body.
There are some simple things you can do to make everyday living much more comfortable and fun for your dog with arthritis. Something as straightforward as providing raised food and water dishes can relieve low-back pain and make mealtimes more enjoyable. Dishes placed at a height between your dog’s elbow and shoulder level are generally most convenient.
In addition, keep your dog with Arthritis or Osteoarthritis warm and dry. Outdoor living is, in general, not appropriate for these dogs.
To make sleeping surfaces as comfortable as possible, consider providing your dog with an orthopedic or memory foam bed.
A ramp to enter and leave the vehicle makes car rides more enjoyable by eliminating stress on the back and leg joints. Dogs generally learn how to use ramps quickly.
Depending on the extent of your dog’s Arthritis or Osteoarthritis, it may be best to prevent access to stairs when no one is available to ’spot’ him on a trip upstairs or downstairs. A collapsible baby gate works well for this and can either be mounted on hinges or simply put up and removed as needed.
Keep your dog’s nails short to increase traction and reduce strain on their joints.
Finally, an often-overlooked yet very important environmental modification is slip-free flooring. In this age of hardwood, laminate, tile, and vinyl flooring, most dogs with arthritis struggle just to get around the house. We can help them out in a number of ways:
- Add area rugs with non-skid backing. Yoga mats can also be used.
- Use baby gates to prevent access to rooms with slick floors.
- Lay down interlocking squares of lightly padded flooring (such as those used to create play surfaces for children). These squares work well for covering large floor surfaces because they can be custom-fitted to any room and easily removed for cleaning and entertaining company.
- Some dogs tolerate wearing light boots that give them traction on slippery surfaces.
Work with your veterinarian to expand and fine-tune options for your dog. With a bit of imagination and creative thought, you can help your dog with arthritis or Osteoarthritis enjoy a long, happy, and comfortable life!