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How to soothe a dog with joint pain or arthritis

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Was your dog previously an active bundle of energy and joy, but now struggles to even get up? Joint problems and arthritis are common in dogs, especially those in their later years. Thankfully, there are lots of natural remedies and medication which can soothe dog joint pain and get your pooch back to their bright and bubbly self.

By Alice Lang

We all know how hyper and energetic dogs are. They spend years of their lives running around, playing catch, swimming and even taking part in sports. It’s no wonder their joints can become sore - they do take quite a pounding! As well as this, joint problems are, unfortunately, a very normal part of the ageing process in dogs.

In fact, an estimated 20% of dogs will be affected by arthritis or joint pain at some point in their lives. Let’s learn about the symptoms of dog joint pain and how to soothe these pesky aches and pains in dogs.

Symptoms of dog joint pain

Dogs can’t tell us when they’re in pain. So as a dog owner, it’s your job to be aware of the symptoms of dog joint pain so you can help them out, should they need it.

One of the most striking symptoms of joint pain or arthritis is a decrease in activity. If your dog was once eager to walk, play and run but now seems disinterested, dog joint pain may be to blame. You might even notice that as your dog tries to get up after a lie down or nap, they appear to be in pain or it takes them a while to actually get on their feet.

Other symptoms of dog joint pain and arthritis include:

  • Difficulties standing up or sitting/lying down
  • Stiffness with movement
  • Limping
  • Unable to climb stairs
  • Lack of jumping or running
  • Noticeable swelling on joints

Matthew Hoffman, author of Vet On Call: The Best Home Remedies for Keeping Your Dog Healthy, explains: “Big dogs such as Great Danes, Labrador retrievers and Saint Bernards are prone to arthritis because the sheer size puts a lot of stress on the joints,” “But small dogs can also get arthritis. For example, Yorkshire terriers, toy poodles, and Pomeranians tend to have ‘trick’ knees, which can lead to arthritis later on.”

How to soothe dog joint pain

If you head to the vets for dog joint pain remedies, you’ll most likely be prescribed an NSAID pain reliever. In severe cases, these medications certainly have their place.

However, it’s worth trying out some natural remedies first, especially if the condition is mild - as medications can be harsh on your pup’s liver.

Keep an eye on their weight

Dogs who are carrying a few extra pounds are much more likely to suffer from arthritis than those who are of a normal weight. On top of this, if your pooch has already been diagnosed with joint pain or arthritis, extra weight will put even more pressure on their fragile joints, which causes them to wear down even further.

So if your dog is overweight or obese, now is the time to start a weight loss programme. Regular exercise and a controlled diet of high-quality food should do the trick.

Move, move, move!

“During arthritis flare-ups, most dogs will prefer lying on the carpet to running around the yard. But regular exercise is essential because it causes the body to secrete lubricating fluid into the joints, so they move more smoothly” explains Matthew.

“Exercise also strengthens the muscles surrounding their joints, which helps prevent arthritis from getting worse. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise because it puts relatively little pressure on the painful joints.”

There we have it, then - even if your pooch is tempted to stay inside and sleep all day, try and encourage him to have a few short, gentle walks. It’ll help him in the long run.

Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods

If your pooch is suffering from dog joint pain or arthritis, try and switch up their diet to include some anti-inflammatory foods. You’d be surprised at how powerful natural food can be when it comes to soothing pain!

You could either buy a pre-made anti-inflammatory food for dogs or make your own food or treats. Alternatively, there are certain ingredients you could just mix in with regular food if you don’t have time to cook from scratch.

Try the following foods: papaya, celery, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cherries and fresh, oily fish.

Physical or massage therapy

Whether you go through your vet or a private centre, physical and massage therapies are highly effective for dog joint pain. It’s pretty much the same as massage and physio for humans - with the added benefit that they’ll be able to teach you how to perform the routines on your pup at home.

Provide extra warmth and comfort

dog joint pain If your dog suffers with joint pain, it's important to keep them warm ©Brian Taylor on Unsplash
 

An orthopaedic or extra supportive dog bed or mattress which cushions sore joints can go miles in soothing your dog’s joint pain. Arthritis can also flare up in cold or wet weather conditions, so try and keep them warm and dry as much as possible. You can do this by applying warm compresses to painful joints, supplying lots of cosy blankets or investing in a doggy jacket for the winter.

Use supplements

“The supplement glucosamine has proven to be very helpful for arthritis. It hasn’t undergone a lot of scientific scrutiny, but it has no known side effects and it appears to regenerate the joint cartilage and relieve pain and inflammation Matthew explains in his book.

Always ask your vet about how much of a particular supplement to give to your dog. You could also enquire about omega-3, vitamin E, selenium and MSM supplements, which can all help to relieve dog joint pain.

By incorporating these dog joint pain remedies into your dog's daily routine, you're bound to see an improvement in your pup's mood, movement and pain.  But remember; if the pain gets worse or your pooch is really struggling, it's always best to head to the vet at the earliest opportunity. We really hope your cute canine buddy is feeling better soon!