As your dog ages, you might notice him slowing down. It might be harder for him to get up in the morning, he might walk slower, or he might not be as interested in chasing the ball as he used to be. Just as with elderly people, elderly dogs suffer from a myriad of ailments. One of these is arthritis.
Arthritis can show in dogs in many different ways. As in humans, arthritis attacks the joints in the body, making it increasingly difficult to move and get around. Because of evolution, many dogs will try to mask their pain. In the wild, dogs that could not keep up with the pack would be ostracized. This can make it more difficult for the human pack to know when their friend is suffering.
Watch for a decline in everyday activities – is your dog slowing on your daily walks? Maybe he is less likely to play fetch or run around the yard? Or maybe he is having a hard time getting up from a laying down position? Other dogs will actually cry and whimper in pain.
The first thing to do is take your dog to the vet for an evaluation. Your vet will check for painful places and range of motion. She might do x-rays. She might also do some blood work to check out your dog’s internal workings to make sure that any medication will not have an adverse affect on your pet.
One form of treatment is pain reduction. This can be done with injections at the vet or by pills that you can take home. Only give your pet prescribed pain relievers – never give him something intended for humans as it could make him very ill. Most vets will only use pain medications for short amounts of time before requiring repeat blood work.
However, one side effect of some pain medications is liver and kidney problems and they will want to make sure that their cure is not making your dog worse in other areas.
Another option for dogs is to take glucosamine, either in tablet form or otherwise. As in humans, glucosamine helps relieve arthritis symptoms by replacing joint fluid. Many dogs see an improvement while on the supplement. Your vet can let you know a recommended starting dose for your dog, which is usually used for a minimum of 6 weeks.
After that time you can try lowering the dosage or the frequency until you find a good maintenance level for your pet. It comes in both tablet and liquid form, making it easy to find a way to administer it to your pet.
Acupuncture is another treatment for dogs with arthritis. Just as in humans, acupuncture needles are inserted into the dog’s body. A treatment session lasts anywhere from one minute to 30 minutes, and usually several treatments are required in order to see improvement.
Another treatment often used in conjunction with one of the above treatments is to use diet and herbs to treat arthritis. More often done by a holistic vet then your regular one, the dog is given fresh foods like salmon, lima beans, and kale as well as a mix of Chinese herbs. This treatment is not for the faint of heart, as it not only requires cooking for your dog, but herbs often need to be given at multiple times of the day to be effective.
Last, but perhaps not the least of the solutions would be to exercise your dog – but not in a way that will hurt your pooch.
Before you stone me for such a statement, please hear me out.
Personally, I’ve seen many pet owners swear by certain training methods (mostly water based) that is highly recommended by dog trainers and therapists. You can find out more about those methods here.
Small changes to your dog’s every day life can also make coping with arthritis easier. Make sure that he has a soft comfortable bed to sleep in that is easy to get in and out with. Continue with light exercise to help keep his joints mobile.
Make sure that he is maintaining his proper weight, as an excessive weight gain will cause more strain on his joints. This may require a change in the amount of food or the type of food that you give him.
You can also look for ways to make it easier for your dog to get around, such as installing a ramp to get up your front stairs or into the car.
it would also be wise if you would get decent dog insurance to cover the medical bills that will be incurred should your beloved dog ever contract arthritis.
You can check out good dog insurances here.
Arthritis does not have to mean the end of the road for your pet. With a little extra care and some changes in routine he can be happy and comfortable for years to come.