How You Can Ease Your Senior Dog's Arthritis Pain

It is hard to miss the signs of canine arthritis.  Where your dog once ran to greet you at the door, he or she may now hobble over slowly.  It may be harder for them to get up from a resting position, they may be  reluctant to go up or down stairs, they may limp, or have general lethargy. 

These are clear signs of arthritis pain and it affects between 60 – 70% of dogs. Arthritis is a condition where the cartilage, or cushioning between bones, has worn away and now your dog experiences bone grinding against bone.

Arthritis is often caused by ligament damage that hasn’t healed properly. Have you ever seen a dog go airborne for a frisbee and then have a rough landing? That rough landing can have consequences later in life. Certain breeds are also more predisposed to arthritis than others. Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and other larger breeds are more prone to developing joint problems like arthritis. 

While there is no “cure” for arthritis pain, there are treatment plans we can employ to ease the pain.

Ways to Ease Your Senior Dog’s Arthritis Pain

Exercise - You might not think that walking your dog is a great way to ease arthritic pain, but moderate and gentle exercise can reduce pain and stiffness. Moving the joints actually produces synovial fluid which lubricates your pet’s joints.

The ASPCA recommends daily walks for arthritic dogs. Not only does your pet benefit from more mobile joints but it also helps keep your dog at a healthy weight. Excess weight puts more pressure on the joints which makes it even more painful for your pet to get around. How often should you walk? Two to three 10-20 minute walks a day will be beneficial. You don’t want to overdo it.

Swimming is a good low-impact form of exercise for your dog. If your dog likes to swim and you have a place for him to do so, swimming will help increase mobility too.

Supplements and Medications – You may be able to ease your dog’s pain and slow down the progression of arthritis with supplements and medications. If your pet is in a lot of pain, we may prescribe an anti-inflammatory for your dog. There are many prescription-strength NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) that may be suitable or you may find a combination of Omega 3 fish oil and glucosamine works well for your dog. We can make recommendations and conduct x-rays so you know how far your dog’s arthritis has progressed.

Supports – If your dog is used to leaping onto your bed or into the back of the SUV, but now you notice your dog hesitates before doing those things, it may be because it hurts to land. If your dog is behaving this way, dog ramps/steps will help your dog get to where he wants to go without risking injury.

Orthopedic beds –  These beds offer extra cushioning and some of them have gel inserts for cooling inflamed joints. They are also designed to help your dog go from lounging to upright easier.

Raised dog bowls – You’ve probably seen those elevated stands that hold your pet’s bowls closer to their mouths. Some dogs have arthritis in the neck or shoulder joints and it is hard to raise and lower their heads to reach the dishes. Raising the bowls eliminates this difficulty for your pet.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight – This is SO important! Even a little extra weight can make a big difference when it comes to pressure on the joints. Every extra pound on your dog is equal to 20 extra pounds on you!  Keeping your dog at a healthy weight can reduce their arthritis pain. Overweight dogs start on pain medications for arthritis on average 2 years before their normal weight counterparts. Weight loss comes mostly from diet change, with exercise playing a more minor role.

As you can see, while there are many ways you can ease your senior dog’s arthritis pain, it starts with paying close attention to your dog’s behavior and discussing your options with us.

If you have concerns about your dog and arthritis, please book an appointment today to have him or her evaluated. That way, you can help your furry friend feel better soon.

 

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