Your local veterinarian can help your canine companion enjoy less pain and greater mobility
As dogs age, they often begin to slow down, becoming less active. If your dog’s reduced activity seems to be accompanied by swollen joints, stiffness, or difficulty standing, running, walking or jumping, they probably have arthritis. Because these symptoms can also sometimes be caused by other health problems, it’s important to visit your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis of your dog’s condition and an expert recommendation for treatment.
Canine arthritis treatment can be approached in two main ways. First of all, your veterinarian can offer pain relief. Secondly, they can offer various treatments designed to help restore the lost cartilage that is causing the dog’s joint pain.
Supplements: Supplements are primarily used for promoting healthy cartilage and joint health, and may include various combinations of glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids. Your veterinarian may recommend simply switching your dog to a special prescription diet that incorporates these nutrients rather than giving them as separate supplements.
Medications: Medication can be used to relieve pain associated with arthritis as well as to promote tissue repair in the joints. Tramadol is one of the safest and most affordable pain medications to use. Injections of Adequan can help your dog’s body repair its own cartilage, but this treatment can be expensive and requires 6 injections over a 3-week period. Steroids may also be used for their anti-inflammatory effect, but only in moderation. Other non-steroidal medications are available but can have severe side effects. Before prescribing any medication, your vet will do extensive blood work to make sure the risks of side effects are as small as possible.
In addition to seeking veterinary treatment, you can help relieve your pet’s joint pain by making some changes to their environment and daily routine.
Weight Management: First of all, if your pet is overweight, cut back on the treats to bring them back to a healthy weight. This will help reduce the stress on their joints caused by lugging around excess pounds.
Stairs & Floors: Stairs and slippery floors can be difficult for an arthritic dog to navigate. Set up a sturdy ramp to help your dog get up and down short flights of stairs and put down rugs with non-skid backings to give your dog a safe route over slippery wood, tile, or concrete floors.
Furniture: If your dog is allowed on the furniture, make sure they can get up there without jumping. If you invest in a small portable ramp you can use it indoors for the couch or your bed and also outdoors for getting into the car.
Bedding: Having plenty of soft padding to bed down on is important to protect your dog’s joints from the pressure of lying on hard floors.
Exercise: Reasonable amounts of low-impact exercise can help your dog maintain flexibility and mobility. The key is to let your pet go at their own pace and tell you when they’re tired. Swimming is actually the best exercise for arthritic dogs because the water keeps their own weight off their joints, but obviously it is only suitable for dogs who enjoy swimming.