I don’t know any dog owner who won’t do everything in his power to make things easier for his best pal.
Osteoarthritis or joint pain is one of those cases that can affect the quality of life in dogs, especially active ones.
And although arthritis is more common in older canines, it can also start at an early age due to an injury, infection, and other causes.
But know this:
While over-the-counter medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can bring relief to a dog with arthritis, they aren’t always a safe option and can even cause toxicity.
The good thing is that we have quite a few things we can do from the comfort of our home to control and manage joints ache or discomfort in dogs.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to help a dog with arthritis at home.
How to Help a Dog with Arthritis at Home
1. Daily Exercise
Arthritic dogs should only engage in low impact workouts that put less stress on the body and reduce the chance of injuries. Walking is a great way to keep your dog active without putting to much strain on the joints.
However, take a few shorter walks instead of a long one, and avoid going outside when it’s too cold as this can cause joint aches and pains. Daily walks are also important for managing your dog’s body weight in order to avoid further pressure on the joints.
Swimming is another joint friendly activity to consider if your dog doesn’t mind water. Both of these exercises help to improve blood circulation to the joints and also develop more muscle to support joint stability.
You can also do other activities with your dog like hiding treats around the house for him to find or throwing a ball for short distances, but keep it light. Too much exercise can worsen your dog’s condition.
2. Healthy Diet
If your dog is carrying excessive body weight, it can take a toll on his joints. Beside doing sport, you need to get Fido’s diet in check, especially if he’s a large breed such as a Golden Retriever, Great Dane or German Shepherd, which are more prone to arthritis in the first place.
Weight management dog food has fewer calories than traditional dog food, less ‘bad’ fat (that tend can cause inflammation in the joints), and in most cases, a good amount of anti-inflammatory ingredients such as antioxidants and Omega-3.
Also, look for a product that’s already supplemented with Glucosamine to help maintain joints health and reduce joint pain.
3. Joint Supplements
Cosequin and Dasuquin are two well-known joint supplements that contain a combination of Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM, which works together to protect your dog’s joints and support healthy cartilage and mobility.
These products are recommended by many veterinarians and are available for all dogs, in all sizes (check the back label for the appropriate direction of use). Use regularly for best results.
Omega-3 is widely used in premium dog food because it contributes to healthier hair and skin, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce joint inflammation and discomfort and support better hip and joint function.
Salmon Oil is one of the richest sources of EPA and DHA (two key omega-3 fatty acids), and adding it to the dog’s meal will not only make him feel better, but it will also make his food taste better.
Apple Cider is another treatment that, if given on a daily basis, can help relieve joint pain and arthritis by breaking down calcium deposits around the joints and preventing more calcium build-up.
The recommended amount is 1 tsp to 1 tbsp per 50 pounds of body weight, the best way is to mix apple cider vinegar in your dog’s water bowl.
4. Warm Environment
It’s not really clear why cold temperatures cause more joint discomfort and pain, some say it has to do with low blood flow to the joints, and there’s also a theory that it has to do with the changes in the barometric pressure. Whatever the reason, keeping your dog warm is probably a good idea.
Avoid going out when it’s freezing, and adjust the temperature in your house to be a little bit warmer. Also, leave a blanket in your dog’s bed or get him a blanket coat so he can keep his body warm.
5. Good Mattress
As we need a quality mattress for treating back problems, dogs would appreciate a soft bedding to relieve their joints condition. This is especially true for older dogs that are more prone to arthritis and hip dysplasia.
BRINDLE has an orthopedic foam bed that holds its shape and doesn’t compress, which is key for supporting achy joints. The raised bed also keep your dog off the cold floor, which keeps your dog’s joints warmer and pain-free.
6. Pet Stairs
Jumping on and off furniture, or in and out of the car places extra pressure on your dog’s joints. Pet stairs or ramps are essential for dogs who suffer from arthritis, obesity or senior dogs as they limit additional joint wear and injury.
I love the PupSTEP because it’s durable enough for outdoor use and easy to carry, it also folds for easier storage and is easy to clean with just soap and water. More importantly, these stairs include non-skid feet that prevent accidents.
Other than that, make sure food, water, bedding, and toys are accessible to your dog without having to climb stairs or walk too far.
7. Raised Bowls
Dogs eat every day, sometimes even more than once, that’s why it’s important to reduce strain on their neck and joints by elevating their food and water bowls. Some dogs actually avoid eating and drinking because they experience pain from reaching too low.
You can raise your dog’s existing bowls by placing them on a higher surface or get an adjustable pet feeder that you set to different heights.
8. Gentle Massage
Giving your dog massage at home is a good way to help him relax, but more importantly, it can help with arthritis pain by increasing flexibility and circulation to the painful joints.
You can ask a therapist to show you some massage techniques for relieving aching joints, or you can learn it by yourself by watching this youtube demonstration:
9. Trimmed Nails
Dogs usually grind their nails naturally when they walk or play on hard surfaces, but since canines with arthritis don’t move around as much, their nails are often overgrown to the point where sitting and walking become uncounterable and may cause more joint pain.
You can ask your local veterinarian or a professional groomer to clip your dog’s toenails, or you can do it on your own with a pet nail clipper. But be aware that dog nails contain blood vessels and nerves and cutting them too much can hurt your dog.
If your dog has light colored clews, you can easily see the “quick” (the sensitive tissue below the nail) and avoid it.