Arthritis, the stiffening or inflammation of joints, primarily affects older dogs, large breeds and dogs who sustained bone or joint injuries. Arthritis can limit your dog’s mobility and make it difficult to stand, climb stairs or engage in routine play. While arthritis is not something that can be permanently fixed, you can take steps to make your pup more comfortable living with the disorder. Provide supplements and medicines only with a vet's approval, and make sure the dog has suitable bedding.
A number of commercially produced vitamin and mineral supplements can help lubricate the joints and decrease the discomfort associated with canine arthritis. Some can even help rebuild cartilage and reduce the potential for further joint degeneration. The most common supplements include chondroitin, glucosamine and omega fatty acids. Talk to your vet about the most appropriate products and the proper dosing for your dog based on size, breed, age and any other pre-existing health conditions.
Anti-inflammatory steroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce the pain and swelling that typically accompany canine arthritis. Pain medications should be prescribed by your vet in accordance with your pet’s overall health needs. Your vet may recommend a regular regimen of anti-inflammatory meds or instruct you to give them only when arthritic conditions flare up. Too much pain medication can cause intestinal distress in some dogs. Your vet will prescribe the pain reliever that least adversely affects your pet's health.
Appropriate Diet and Exercise
Arthritis tends to be more prevalent in overweight dogs. Maintain a healthy diet and ensure that your dog is at an appropriate weight to help relieve arthritis symptoms. Unfortunately, exercise can be difficult for a dog with painful joints and can be dangerous if your dog doesn't have good balance and good footing because of arthritis. Your vet is a valuable resource in helping you develop an appropriate low-impact exercise regimen for your arthritic pup.
Give your arthritic dog a warm and comfortable place to rest. Some commercially produced dog beds supply both warmth and joint support. A warm place to sleep are essential for a pup with painful joints. Doggy ramps to beds and couches can help accommodate the dog. Limit the amount of time your arthritic dog spends in cold temperatures and provide adequate soft bedding for sleep. Bedding that cradles and supports and keeps your dog off cold, hard surfaces is most effective.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.