You can help relieve the pain of arthritis in dogs. People with arthritis will agree that winter brings more aches and pains due to the cold weather. Senior dogs and those who have had orthopedic injuries also suffer the pain of cold weather aches. It’s unknown why cold has that effect on those with arthritis, but it seems to be the case for both two- and four-legged individuals.
If your dog is having a hard time getting around this winter, or is uncomfortable or in pain, the team at Westarbor Animal Hospital can help! Let’s take the ache out of Old Man Winter by learning more about how to help treat arthritis in dogs.
What Is Arthritis in Dogs?
The most common type of arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis. This form of arthritis is related to wear and tear, which is why most dogs who have this are senior or geriatric. This occurs when damage begins in the cartilage of the joints of the knees, hips, and so on. This erosion of the cartilage results in the bones of the joint rubbing together.
Most arthritis develops in the weight bearing joints of the pelvis, knees, ankles, and spine. Over time, this damage causes discomfort and eventually pain as the bones are receiving excess pressure.
Treatment of Arthritis in Dogs
While there is no cure, it is possible to slow the progression of osteoarthritis in dogs. Treatment plans include changes in diet, massage, cold laser therapy, therapeutic exercise, certain anti-inflammatory and corticosteroid medications, and joint support supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
Weight Management Is Key
One of the best things you can do for your dog right now is to make sure you have them on a weight maintenance diet. Extra weight places a lot of pressure on the already stressed joints. If your dog is overweight, you will need to start a weight loss diet. Before you make any drastic food changes, either in type or amount, you should check with your veterinarian. Feeding your dog a quality, low-calorie diet will help them shed pounds. There are specially formulated dog foods designed to improve joint function in older dogs. Call us for recommendations.
Gentle Forms of Exercise
Your dog with arthritis will continue to need exercise, but tailor it to their level of ability. Take your dog out on warmer days for a short, leisurely walk at a favorite park or through the neighborhood. Do this at least four days a week for their best wellness, since walks also offer mental enrichment.
Certain doggie daycares, as well as pet physical therapy facilities, offer heated pools where your dog can swim. This is a low impact exercise that works the whole body without putting undue strain on the joints, muscles, and bones. Slow walks on a treadmill or up a stairway and back down a few times can give your pup the exercise they need without becoming too sore in the process.
Keep Them Warm
Keeping your dog comfortable and warm is important during the cold season. Provide your dog with a well-padded bed in a warm indoor location. Special equipment, such as ramps to go up and down stairs or onto higher furniture, can give your arthritic dog the ability to move freely throughout the house. Clothing can also help to keep the joints warm. Buy your dog some well fitted sweaters and jackets for comfort and warmth.
Helping Care for Arthritis in Dogs
If you’ve noticed your dog is having more pain or difficulty with their mobility during the winter months, please call us. We can provide a wellness examination and consultation on pain reduction and lifestyle changes that will encourage your pet’s best health. In addition to the many ways you can help a dog with arthritis at home, your veterinarian has a toolbox of ways we can help improve your dog’s mobility and reduce pain. We look forward to seeing you and your bestie soon.