The first step in caring for a dog with arthritis is proper diagnosis. Keep an eye out for changes in behavior such as:. These are also possible symptoms of much more serious problems, such as cognitive dysfunction or certain cancers. Your veterinarian can determine the type of arthritis she has by using a combination of a medical history, blood tests, X rays, physical exams, and, if warranted, tests on the fluid inside the joint or MRI imaging. Though relatively uncommon, arthritis can sometimes be caused by a bacterial infection inside a joint or an autoimmune disorder.
These conditions require different medications than common osteoarthritis. Arthritis caused by elbow or hip dysplasia can sometimes be treated surgically.
Relieve Joint Pain & Boost Mobility!
Your veterinarian needs to rule out these probable causes before starting treatment. The most common type of arthritis in dogs and humans is osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease. Most elderly dogs suffer from osteoarthritis to some extent. Time causes the cartilage that cushions joints to wear down and bones start rubbing against each other.
As the condition worsens, the friction can wear down and damage the bones. This kind of arthritis can occur in any joint, though it is most common and causes the most pain in the weight-bearing joints like the shoulders, hips, elbows, knees, and ankles. It can easily be seen in large-breed dogs, whose frames carry the more weight, but smaller dogs are affected as well. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but the pain it causes can be managed through medical treatment, environmental adaptation, and diet and exercise.
New medications have made the treatment of arthritis much more promising. Steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs will decrease the swelling in joints and make movement easier. Dietary supplements, which fortify the cartilage in damaged joints, is frequently recommended. But do not despair! There are a variety of different treatments people have employed in an effort to reduce the symptoms associated with canine arthritis — at least 36 by our count. This is great news for pet parents, as it is often necessary to try a variety of different approaches before you find the formula that helps your pup best.
Natural Dog Arthritis Treatments
Arthritis is a common, painful and debilitating disease that afflicts many domestic dogs. Commonly described as a breakdown of joint cartilage, osteoarthritis is actually a disease that afflicts the entire joint , including the cartilage, bones and synovium a membrane that surrounds the cartilage and contains synovial fluid.
At the end of the day, you must study the issues carefully, learn all you can about the various care strategies and then strive to be the best advocate possible for your dog. Many of these strategies can be implemented rather easily, but others may require a more significant investment and a general contractor!
ARTHRITIS IN DOGS | MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT
For example, some dogs may be able to climb down stairs, yet unable to climb the same stairs back up or vice versa. Or in an even worse scenario, your dog could become injured by trying to scale stairs or explore dangerous portions of your home. You can restrict access to off-limits areas in a variety of ways. Child or indoor dog gates are one of the best methods , but you may be able to keep your dog from trespassing into prohibited areas by simply keeping doors closed or moving furniture around in a way that blocks his path.
Just as ramps make it easier for your elderly grandmother to get into and out of her home, ramps help arthritic and geriatric dogs alter their elevation too. In fact, ramps can help reduce further joint damage and reduce the pain your pup feels. Alternatively, there are some great telescoping pet ramps you can purchase which can be used to help dogs up steps, into cars, and around other troublesome areas of your home. Slippery surfaces can be challenging if sometimes amusing for even healthy dogs, but they can be an absolute nightmare for older dogs dealing with arthritis.
Unable to get a good grip on the floor, arthritic dogs are highly susceptible to falls — hardly a good outcome for your already-suffering sidekick. A dog-friendly throw rug can work wonders for making slippery areas safer and more comfortable for your dog. Most of these products are low-risk strategies, that give your dog a chance to feel better, without putting him at risk of further injury.
There are several different styles available, but the best ones for arthritic dogs feature two handles one near the shoulders and the other near the hips that allow you lift your dog to his feet comfortably and safely. While all dogs will enjoy the benefits a good bed provides, high-quality sleeping quarters are incredibly important for those suffering from canine arthritis. Manufactures merely use the term to raise the apparent value of the bed. However, this does not mean that beds labelled orthopedic are not valuable; it just means that the overall quality of the bed — particularly as it relates to the amount of cushion it provides — is more important than nebulous marketing claims.
Pick a bed that is roomy enough for your pooch and contains at least 2-inches of foam or other filler material. Make sure that when your dog lies on the bed, his hips, shoulders, knees and elbows are cushioned and not pressing on the hard floor below. Not sure where to start?
See our suggestions for the best dog beds for senior dogs , packed with memory foam and old doggie comfort! Just like injured humans can attain some pain relief and increased stability from using braces on injured or painful joints, dogs can also derive benefit from these products. Additionally, braces often help dogs feel more confident about their ailing legs , which can improve their mood and quality of life. C anine knee and elbow braces are available as both mass-produced and custom-built versions ; while the latter are clearly superior to the former, they are also more expensive.
Discuss the issue with your veterinarian before purchasing such a brace to obtain the best possible product for your pet and you avoid causing further damage. Note that some dogs may be reluctant to wear braces, so do your best to keep him calm when trying to put it on and use a gentle touch to avoid hurting his aching joints. By enabling him to eat in a comfortable, standing position, he can avoid some of the pain and joint stress caused by eating at odd or uncomfortable angles. You can even cut a hole in the box so the dish rests flush with the surface.
Use tall, narrow dishes for long-snouted dogs with long ears; use wide, shallow dishes for short-faced breeds.
Should you start giving your dog a joint supplement? – SmartyPaws
While you should still consult with your veterinarian before engaging in any of these treatments or strategies, most of them are relatively safe and low-risk. As a bonus, most dogs appear to enjoy the application of heat! Heat therapy should be employed on an on-going basis for best results. You can use a heating pad on your dog every 8 hours , but twice-daily treatments once in the morning and once before bed are often sufficient.
E ach treatment period should last about 15 minutes per body area. You want it to be warm, not hot.
If your dog expresses any discomfort or tries to move away, stop the treatment, re-assess the temperature of the pad and try again later. Avoid subjecting your dog to cold, damp weather or drafts. Ideally, this is a time to keep your dog inside more often. Dogs are digitigrade animals, which is a fancy way of saying they walk on their toes humans are plantigrade animals, in case you were wondering.
Because dogs walk on their toes, the length of their nails can drastically alter the way they stand and support their body weight. Excessively long nails can worsen the pain associated with arthritis — in fact, it may be a contributing factor to the disease. This will allow his paws and toes to support his body weight comfortably. Unfortunately, some dogs despise having their nails trimmed. They run when they see the clippers or struggle during the procedure.
Too bad — you must figure out a way to get the job done, and you must figure out a way to do so without unnecessarily stressing your pup! If need be, have a veterinarian or skilled groomer clip his nails. Other dogs may be more tolerant of nail grinders than clippers. Use good lighting while trimming or grinding and avoid nicking the quick. Exercise is one of those things that helps almost anything that ails you, and the same is largely true for your dog!
Try to limit your walks to areas with a comfortable surface, such as grassy fields, rather than sidewalks. In fact, a joint effort between Columbia University and the University of Iowa monitored eleven dogs for a period of about 10 years to determine if exercise led to canine arthritis. While most canine arthritis discussion revolves around osteoarthritis, which is caused by the progressive deterioration of the joint cartilage, many dogs develop arthritis in response to joint injuries — a condition veterinarians term post-traumatic arthritis.
Although the origin of the two conditions differs, the symptoms and treatment options are relatively similar. As with osteoarthritis, there are a number of strategies that you can implement to help avoid the disease. These primarily involve keeping your dog safe from injury and reducing the impacts associated with running and jumping.
Most such strategies are common sense: Among other important steps, you must make sure your pup warms up slowly, cools-down properly, and stretches before exercis e. One of the trickle-down effects of arthritis is that afflicted dogs have trouble grooming themselves.
So, while providing your dog with some grooming assistance will not directly treat his arthritis, it will help improve his quality of life. Instead, opt for no-fuss, straightforward styling , along with a set of reliable grooming tools — after all, even assisted grooming may be difficult and uncomfortable for your dog, so keep it simple. Accordingly, it is always important to keep the body weight of arthritic dogs within the recommended range.
You can help your dog lose weight by altering either side of the caloric equation: You can reduce the amount of food provided or increase the number of calories he burns through exercise. However, restricted calorie diets may help treat or prevent arthritis in the first place. Scientists have been studying food restriction in animals and humans for several decades now, and the results have been quite promising. In many different species , the strategy helps to eliminate chronic conditions and extend lifespan. For example, at least two different studies have demonstrated that calorie restriction slowed the progression of osteoarthritis.
Obviously, the goal of calorie-restricted diets is not to keep your pooch in a state of perpetual hunger, so proceed with such attempts carefully and always work closely with your vet while doing so. Commercial dog food companies have long claimed that their products cure one ailment or another, but concrete evidence supporting these claims are often lacking.
Veterinarians have long recommended making food changes to help arthritic dogs lose weight. However, many vets are beginning to give more serious thought to the possibility that dietary changes may help reduce arthritic pain too. Some such dog foods help alleviate arthritis through the use of supplements like chondroitin or glucosamine, while others include ingredients rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon oil. As with any other dietary change, talk the decision over with your vet before proceeding.