Canine arthritis makes your pet sore and achy and leaves you feeling helpless. Treatments are varied, and the best place to start is with a visit to your veterinarian. But there are also a number of things you can do to help manage their pain and control symptoms at home. Here are some simple and inexpensive ways to treat your dog's arthritis and make them feel more comfortable.
There are a number of inexpensive supplements that are really good for doggy arthritis, and many of them can be purchased at your local drug or pet supply store.
Glucosamine is one in particular that can help tremendously. It is thought to work by increasing the production of substances that make up cartilage and can even help repair damaged areas in the joints and spine, thereby stopping the progression of arthritis.
If you're not sure what kind to get, Dr. Chris Bessent, DVM, claims that glucosamine supplements with all the "extras" tend to be more expensive and are not always necessary. If all you want to do is to prevent your dog's arthritis from getting worse—as opposed to treating arthritis and improving skin and coat—be sure to pick supplements that only contain glucosamine.
Glucosamine should not be used if your dog is diabetics or has bleeding problems. In those cases, chondroitin may be a good alternative. This supplement promotes the absorption of water and other fluids that are vital to healthy cartilage, so it sometimes gets packaged together with glucosamine. Be sure to read the label before purchasing to make sure you're getting a pure substance.
Proper Bedding and Flooring
If your dog already has a nice, soft bed, you're one step ahead of the game. If not, consider purchasing something that will provide extra padding. The goal is not only to improve comfort while your friend is resting, but to also prevent pressure point calluses from developing as activity decreases and more time is spent lying down. Your dog is also more prone to calluses because muscle atrophy—a shrinking of the muscle tissue—leaves less natural padding around their hips.
Make sure your dog's bed isn't near a draft or exposed to cold, damp areas. While no one seems to know why, this does tend to exacerbate arthritis symptoms.
Lastly, be absolutely certain your floors are not slippery, and if you have outdoor stairs, consider putting a ramp there for your canine buddy. Going up and down stairs can be painful for anyone with arthritis.
Short Exercise Routines
Although it may seem counterintuitive, keeping those joints moving can minimize the pain and stiffness that comes with arthritis. For this to be beneficial, consult with your veterinarian to be sure that your dog's condition isn't so severe that most of the cartilage has worn away. Short walks along your driveway several times a day, or even non-impact exercise like swimming, can help maintain mobility. Most professionals agree that 10-15 minutes at a time is a good place to start while paying attention to clues that your dog needs to stop.
A gentle massage is great for atrophying muscles because it increases blood flow to the area and facilitates less painful movement of the joints. Some animal hospitals employ certified canine massage therapists who can see your pet regularly or teach you how to do it at home.
Avoiding "People" Drugs
No matter how sore your furry friend may seem, do not give them any sort of over-the-counter medications without talking to a veterinarian. This includes drugs that are used for people as well as prescriptions you might have lying around for other pets.
Aspirin is sometimes recommended for pain and inflammation, but its safety really depends on your dog's overall health. Your vet may wish to do bloodwork to ensure those drugs won't cause any complications like liver damage and internal bleeding. And never give your pets ibuprofen as it can be toxic even in single doses. Look at this site for more help from an animal hospital.