Your dog's quality of life is one of your top priorities. You want to do everything you can to make sure your furry friend is as comfortable as possible, especially as they age. One sad reality of dog ownership is that our pets are prone to developing arthritis. This degenerative joint disease causes pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the joints. If your dog has been recently diagnosed with arthritis, you may tend to feel helpless. However, there are many things you can do to make your dog's life more comfortable.
1. Keep Them at a Healthy Weight
One of the best things you can do for your arthritic dog is to keep them at a healthy weight. Excess weight puts added stress on already-sensitive joints, exacerbating pain and inflammation. If your dog is carrying around extra weight, talk to your veterinarian about developing a weight loss plan. They can help you determine how many calories your dog should be eating each day and what type of food is best for weight loss.
2. Exercise Them Regularly
It may seem counterintuitive to exercise a dog with arthritis, but moderate exercise is actually one of the best things you can do for joint pain. Exercise helps to lubricate the joints, reduce inflammation, and increase muscle strength. Just be sure to start slowly and not overdo it; too much exercise can actually worsen joint pain.
3. Give Them Supplements
Just like humans, dogs can benefit from supplementing their diet with joint-healthy nutrients. This is especially true for older dogs, who may not be able to get all the nutrients they need from their food. One key thing to remember is to never give your dog human supplements. Many of these contain ingredients that can be toxic to dogs, so it's always best to err on the side of caution and stick to natural supplements.
4. Change Their Diet
The food your dog eats can also make a big difference in their joint health. Dogs with arthritis may benefit from a diet that is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. So, if your dog's current food doesn't contain omega-3s, you may want to consider switching to a different brand.
5. Adjust Their Daily Routine
As your dog gets older, you may need to make some changes to its daily routine. This is especially true if they start to slow down and have trouble with stairs or getting up from a lying position. To make things easier on your dog, try to avoid putting them in situations where they will need to exert themselves too much. For example, if they normally sleep in a crate at night, you may want to switch to a bed that is closer to the ground.
6. Keep Their Joints Warm
Joint pain is often worse in cold weather, so it's important to keep your dog's joints warm during the winter months. This can be as simple as adding a blanket to their bed or using a heating pad on sore joints for short periods of time.
7. Give Them Pain Medication
If your dog is in a lot of pain, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about giving them pain medication. There are a variety of options available, both prescription and over-the-counter. Just be sure to follow your vet's instructions carefully and never give your dog human medications unless directed by a professional. You can also ask their vet regarding options for natural pain relief for dogs.
8. Massage Them
Giving your dog regular massages can also help to reduce joint pain and inflammation. This is a great way to bond with your furry friend while also providing them with some much-needed relief. When massaging them, be sure to use gentle pressure and avoid any areas that are particularly sore or inflamed. And if you don't know how to give a dog massage, there are plenty of instructional videos online that can show you how.
When it comes to arthritis, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for your neighbor's or friends’ arthritic dog may not work for your dog. So, it's important to experiment and find what works best for your furry friend. With a little trial and error, you should be able to find a treatment plan that helps your dog live a comfortable, pain-free life.