Arthritis is, unfortunately, a condition that’s highly likely to affect your dog in their lifetime. Approximately 80 percent of dogs over age 8 will be affected, and 20 percent of young adult dogs will start to show symptoms before their senior years. While arthritis is not curable, there are some ways you can keep your dog comfortable and slow the progression of the disease.
1. Talk to Your Vet
First, rule out any other possible causes of your dog’s symptoms. Limpness and difficulty getting up could also be caused by sprains, muscle tears, and other injuries. Confirm the diagnosis with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may prescribe painkillers and recommend supplements that can help relieve your dog’s symptoms. A holistic vet may be able to offer alternative treatments and dietary changes.
2. Get The Right Bed
Your dog’s bed should be very easy for them to walk into. They should not have to step up onto a platform or over high sides. The bed should be thick enough that they will not feel the floor through the bottom.
If your dog sleeps in your bed, make sure they do not have to jump up and down to get to it. You can get some steps or a ramp, or lift them up and down each morning and night.
3. Keep Your Dog Warm
Just like people, arthritic dogs tend to feel worse when they are cold. Keep outdoor potty breaks brief in the winter. Coats, pajamas, even leg warmers can help your dog feel warm when it’s chilly out. Also be sure to keep plenty of warm blankets in their bed or crate. A microwaveable bed warmer can also help.
4. Encourage Low Impact Exercise
Your dog will be reluctant to move around when they’re in pain, but they must exercise to help slow the progression of arthritis. Brief walks, swimming, and indoor games like hide and seek are all appropriate for dogs with joint pain. Avoid hilly terrains and activities that require your dog to jump or climb obstacles. Nosework can be a fun, stimulating game that requires less mobility than other dog sports.
5. Feed Fresh Foods
It’s not enough to feed a kibble that is formulated for dogs with arthritis. While that certainly can help, some nutrients can break down in processed foods. Fresh foods are the best way to add pain-relieving nutrients to your dog’s diet, though supplements can also help.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation. Supplements like fish oil are one source, but it’s best to provide fresh, whole food sources whenever possible. Green lipped mussels (in powder or treat form), sardines (fresh raw or boneless cooked, or tinned in water, low sodium), salmon (boneless cooked), and eggs (raw or cooked, feed both whites and yolks.)
Glucosamine-chondroitin supplements have also been shown to help relieve arthritis symptoms. Chicken feet, duck feet and tracheas (all fed raw) are excellent fresh food sources.
Also, make sure your dog is at a healthy weight. Excess weight puts additional strain on the joints. Your dog may not be active due to their symptoms, so you may need to cut back on their food servings. The suggested serving sizes on the back of the bag may not be appropriate for a low-activity dog. Snacks like fresh green beans, blueberries, and strawberries can help your dog feel full while providing antioxidants.
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