Arthritis in dogs – the unseen struggle

Arthritis and Degenerative joint disease


Dogs rely on their legs and joints to maintain mobility. They are naturally athletic
animals and eventually this activity can take its toll. Many older dogs have arthritis but
because they can not tell us they are in pain, it is often seen only as stiffness.
Your dog may be reluctant to jump down from the car. He may limp at the beginning of a
walk or show stiffness when getting out of his basket in the morning. Some dogs with
arthritis are less interested in play and can be less tolerant towards children or other dogs.
Licking or chewing at joints can also be a sign of pain.
Although some wear and tear is inevitable, there are many products available that can
slow down the progress of the disease and promote healing of the cartilage.
Things you can do to help your dog:
 Speak to your veterinary surgeon
There are many products available to relieve painful joints. Your vet may
prescribe NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) which will reduce pain
and stiffness.


Control weight


An overweight dog puts a lot of extra strain on his joints. Weight reduction by
increasing exercise is not recommended with an arthritic dog so a calorie
controlled diet should be fed. Once the excess weight has gone you should see a
marked difference in your dog’s mobility.


Gentle exercise


Regular, gentle exercise will help maintain mobility, keep your dog from
stiffening up and ensure he enjoys life. Avoid occasional energetic exercise or
rough play which will simply cause pain afterwards.

Supplements


Nutritional joint supplements can be given to help joint function. Your vet will
recommend a suitable product.


Alternative therapies:

  1. Acupuncture can have a pain relieving effect. It also has a beneficial effect
    on the immune system, increasing ability to fight disease and giving a
    whole body improvement.
  2. Hydrotherapy allows careful controlled swimming as a low impact form of
    exercise. It improves fitness and builds muscle mass which helps support
    joints.
  3. Physiotherapy stretches and exercises can help keep your dog more
    comfortable and mobile and massage can help to warm up the muscles
    before exercise and cool them down afterwards.

There are a number of things that can be done to aid a dog with arthritis. Your veterinary
surgeon or nurse can offer regular checks and advice to help you give your dog a greater.

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