In both humans and pets, it’s an all too well known fact that cooler weather can aggravate the symptoms of arthritis.
Whereas there is still no cure for arthritis in dogs, there are vet-recommended, actionable steps that can be taken to alleviate the stiffness, pain, joint popping, and other symptoms.
Because all dogs have specific health needs, it’s always advisable to discuss new treatment options with a veterinarian.
Most parts of the globe are experiencing winter right now. That’s why we found it befitting to talk about these six things that can help a dog with arthritis.
Weight control is among the most vital tools in managing arthritis in dogs. Heavier pets put more stress on their joints. Keeping dogs lean improves mobility and exercise tolerance.
So, how can you tell if a dog is overweight?
If you can’t easily feel their ribs, they’re probably overweight. A natural waistline should also be visible when viewed from the side and from above.
Regular weight and body condition scoring checks at the vet is the best way to monitor a dog’s weight.
Be sure to consult with a veterinarian about dog hip and joint care dog food that contains ingredients with omega-3 fatty acids for joint health. Pets fed on such diets require less anti-inflammatory medication in the future.
While it might seem like it would do the exact opposite, movement could provide pain relief for arthritic dogs, and here’s why. You see, dogs with less movement because they suffer from arthritis get into a vicious cycle of pain. That’s because less motion then leads to stiffness which makes it harder for them to move, causing even more pain.
In as much as high-impact activities like jumping, running and rough play is not ideal for arthritic dogs, especially those whose clinical diagnosis includes orthopedic surgery, general movement is required. Regular, low-impact activities such as swimming and leash walks can help allay additional damage to the joints and improve mobility. This should, however, not be overdone on certain days but spread out over the entire week.
Warm clothing is also important when going out into the cold. Small or thin-haired dogs can reap the benefits of a dog coat or sweater. Extra care must be taken when putting on or taking off this clothing, especially if manipulating the dog’s legs into it is needed. Sweaters and coats with Velcro attachments that can wrap around them are easier to take off and put on.
The caveat, though, is that dog supplements aren’t regulated by most regulatory bodies. This means that the number of active ingredients can vary. Notwithstanding, there are brands formulating good supplements that can be purchased from a vet or over the counter.
Other ingredients to look for that are key in dog joint and hip care products are phycocyanin, omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), and manganese.
All dogs are different. It’s best to talk to a vet about the best option and quantity of supplements. A professional will bear in mind their medical history and any other unique needs they might have.
Some dogs, especially those that over-exert themselves, may occasionally need stronger pain medication for arthritis pain. According to PetMD, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory dog medication called Galliprant tablets for dogs recently became available and is approved for use in dogs to treat pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. There are also other chewable tablets and oral suspensions for dogs that are right for pets.
Because pain killers have side effects, avoiding long-term use is recommended. For dogs on long-term pain killers, pay a visit to the veterinarian regularly for checkups or blood tests so that they can screen for systemic side effects.
Physical therapy is known to relieve some symptoms of arthritis in dogs. Ask a veterinary physical therapist to tailor exercises for your pet’s specific needs. This will help them achieve low-impact activity levels.
A home exercise regimen can be developed to replace or reduce regular therapy appointments. Physical therapists may further recommend additional therapies like warm compress, a passive range of motions or a massage to build muscle and help relieve discomfort.
Acupuncture also offers some relief. Ask a pet expert or veterinarian which options you can pursue that are best for your dog.
Whereas comfortable bedding is important for all pets, it is especially essential for those with arthritis. An orthopedic mat or a memory foam bed are some ways to ensure comfort.
Some dogs may enjoy additional heat while others might prefer cooler temperatures. If you use a heating pad or blanket or a heated dog bed, keep it on the lowest setting. Additionally, ensure that the heating element does not entirely cover the bed or crate. Your dog needs to easily move away from the heat if it becomes too warm.
It’s also imperative to ensure there is always additional bedding in between your dog and the heating element. Never allow them to lie directly on top of a supplemental heat source.
While this information can help in providing pain relief for arthritic dogs, It’s best to keep in mind the fact that every dog has their individual needs. As such, there isn’t any one-size-fits-all recommendation. That is why monitoring and keeping track of what your dog can and cannot tolerate and what works best for them while partnering with your veterinarian regarding their long-term care is important.
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