As a fellow pet owner, I’m sure you’re willing to do everything in your power to make things easier for your best pal. Osteoarthritis, or arthritis, is something that can really affect the quality of life in dogs.
While this condition is more common in older canines, it can also start at an early age as the result of an injury, infection, and other causes. Even though over-the-counter medications such as non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve your dog’s symptoms, they aren’t always a safe option. In some instances, they can even cause toxicity.
The good thing is, there are quite a few things you can do to control and manage the amount of discomfort your dog’s feels. In fact, you can start doing some of these things today, ensuring your furry friend is as pain-free as possible.
In this post, you’ll learn how to help a dog with arthritis stay comfortable, right from the comfort of your own home.
9 Natural Ways to Help a Dog with Arthritis at Home
1. Gentle, Daily Exercise is Key
Arthritic dogs should only engage in low impact workouts, as this puts less stress on their body, and reduce the chance of injuries. Walking is one of the best ways to keep your dog active, without putting too much strain on his joints.
However, you’ll be better off taking a more frequent, but shorter walks instead of one long one. Multiple walks each day are also important for managing your dog’s body weight, which helps to avoid putting further pressure on their joints.
Additionally, you should avoid going outside when it’s too cold, as this can exacerbate joint aches and pains. In these cases, you can make use of pee pads.
Swimming is another low impact, joint-friendly activity to consider, as long as your dog isn’t nervous about water. Both of these exercises help in improving blood circulation to the joints, as well as developing more muscle to support joint stability.
Of course, you can 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, as too much exercise can worsen your dog’s condition.
2. Provide a Healthy Diet
If your dog is carrying excessive body weight, it can take a toll on his joints. While exercise is essential, you also need to get your dog’s diet in check. This is especially true if he’s a large breed, such as a Golden Retriever, Great Dane, or German Shepherd, as they’re more prone to joint problems.
In case your pup is holding onto unnecessary weight, consider moving him to a weight management dog food, which has fewer calories compared to ‘regular’ dog food. In most cases, these products also contain anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as antioxidants and Omega-3.
Also, look for a dog food that’s already supplemented with glucosamine, as it’s one of the safest supplements for promoting healthy joints, and reducing joint pain.
3. Learn About Joint Supplements
While we’re at it, both Cosequin and Dasuquin contain a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM, which all work together to protect the joints, support healthy cartilage, and maximizing mobility.
These products are recommended by many veterinarians, and are available for dogs of all sizes. Just be sure to read the dosage recommendations carefully first. For the best results, you should use them regularly.
In addition, you should also consider giving your dog the following supplements:
- Omega-3/Salmon Oil: This is widely used in premium dog food because it contributes to healthy hair and skin, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce joint inflammation and discomfort. Fish is one of the richest sources of EPA and DHA, which are two key Omega-3 fatty acids. Not only adding it to the dog’s meal will make him feel better, but it will also make his food taste better.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: This is another remedy that, if given on a daily basis, can help with relieving 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, and the easiest way to administer it is to simply put it in your dog’s water bowl.
4. Keep a Warm Environment
It’s not really clear why cold temperatures cause more joint discomfort and pain. Some say it has to do with lowering blood flow to the joints, while others think that it has to do with the changes in the barometric pressure. Whatever the reason may be, keeping your dog warm is probably a good idea.
Adjust the temperature in your house to be a little bit warmer, and be sure to leave a blanket in your dog’s bed, or get him a blanket coat, so he can keep his body warm. As mentioned earlier, you should also avoid going out when the temperatures are freezing.
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5. Get a Good Mattress
Just as we need a quality mattress for treating back problems, our dogs also would appreciate soft bedding to relieve their joint pain. For older dogs that are more likely to suffer from arthritis and hip dysplasia, this is a must.
You’ll need a dog bed that has an orthopedic foam that holds its shape and doesn’t compress, which are key factors for supporting achy joints. The raised bed also keeps your dog off the cold floor, which in turn keeps his joints warmer and pain-free.
Since elderly dogs may also experience accidents due to a lack of bladder control, an orthopedic, waterproof dog bed is a safe bet.
6. Grab a Set of Pet Stairs
Jumping on and off furniture, or in and out of the car puts a significant amount of extra pressure on your dog’s joints. Pet stairs are essential for dogs who suffer from arthritis, as well as those who are obese.
Likewise, puppies and adult dogs also get a lot of benefit from pet stairs, as it helps to prevent future wear and tear on their joints.
These stairs are great for both indoor and outdoor use. They’re easy to carry around, and include non-skid feet to provide better grip and security for your pup. Plus, you can clean them with just a simple wipe of soap and water.
Other than that, make sure that your dog’s food and water bowls, bedding, and toys are readily available to him, so he doesn’t have to climb stairs unnecessarily, or walk too far to get to them.
7. Invest in Raised Bowls
Dogs have to eat every day, sometimes multiple times in a day, depending on their feeding schedule. That’s why it’s so important to reduce strain on their neck and joints by elevating their food and water bowls. Some dogs might 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 a raised dog feeder that you can set to different heights.
8. Practice Gentle Massage
Giving your dog a massage at home is a good way to help him relax, but more importantly, it can help with soothing 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. Here’s a quick video demonstration.
9. Keep the Nails Trimmed
Dogs usually grind their nails naturally when they walk or play on hard surfaces. But since canines with arthritis aren’t able to move around as much, their nails are often overgrown. This can make sitting and walking uncomfortable, and 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.
If you decide to do it yourself, be sure to keep in mind that dog nails contain blood vessels and nerves. Just like our fingernails, if you cut too deep, you can hurt your dog.
If your dog has lighter colored claws, it’s easier to see the ‘quick’, which is the sensitive spot in the dog’s nail.