One of the most important aspects of being a dog owner is caring for their health. Because your pet isn’t able to tell you when they are feeling under the weather, you need to be aware and on the look-out for any potential symptoms and health issues. Just like there are specific signs your dog may be suffering from cancer or gastric problems, so there are certain hints that your friend may have canine arthritis.
Is your dog suffering from arthritis?
This debilitating disease can affect many dog breeds and is particularly noticed in older dogs. Early diagnosis can certainly help to reduce pain and suffering. Of course, we would always recommend professional diagnosis in the first instance, but there are several at-home treatments that you can offer to reduce the pain of arthritis. First of all, it’s most important that you understand the symptoms of canine arthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis in dogs
Many dogs will display arthritis symptoms in several different locations on the body. The most prominent areas include the paws, shoulders, elbows, knees, back, neck and of course, the hips.
Limping – check for your dog moving abnormally. It is probably the arthritic joint that he is trying to ease.
Spinal problems – is your dog hunching his back? It will be very painful for him to hold his head up straight.
Snapping – if your dog is in constant pain, he may snap at you when you hold or touch him.
Loss of interest in activities – has your normally athletic dog suddenly given up on taking exercise? This could be as a result of the pain he is suffering.
Difficulty climbing the stairs – one of the principal signs that your dog has arthritis is the way he can no longer jump up the stairs, or into the rear of your vehicle like he used to.
Muscle loss – as a consequence of less exercise, the muscles on your dog’s limbs may deteriorate. Inactivity will cause muscle atrophy to develop.
How to help your dog with arthritis at home
Although your dog will have a treatment plan prescribed by the vet, there are plenty of home remedies you can undertake. These can help to keep your canine friend healthy and to eliminate some of his pain.
Home Remedy #1: Exercise
A limited amount of low-impact exercise can certainly help. Regardless of the age of your dog and the extent of the disease, a reasonable amount of exercise is important to maintain mobility. Swimming and hydrotherapy are excellent forms of non-weight-bearing exercise. Avoid repetitive activities or high impact exercises like chasing a ball or jumping. More frequent, shorter walks of 5 – 15 minutes once or twice a day are much better than one long walk.
Home Remedy #2: Diet
Feed a healthier diet to keep your dog’s weight at an ultimate level. It may be necessary to reduce your pet’s weight, to limit the pressure and stress on the joints.
Home Remedy #3: Supplements
In addition to any medically prescribed medicines, there are numerous joint supplements that promote joint health and healthy cartilage.
Home Remedy #4: Comfort
Just as with humans, a dog will feel more pain linked to arthritis if they suffer from the cold. Raise the room temperature at home slightly, and provide a pet coat or jumper for additional comfort. Place your dog’s bed well away from any draughts too.
Home Remedy #5: Massage
Arthritis pain can be reduced with massage, which will increase your dog’s well-being, circulation and flexibility. You can offer a gentle body rub yourself, or take them for a professional massage. Most of these practitioners are qualified in myofascial release to alleviate knots and tightness in the connective tissue. Likewise, other physiotherapy treatments including stretching and heat treatment may restore joint function and remove pain.
The Canine Massage Guild report in their Degenerative Joint Disease – Case Study that Canine massage therapy can also help to support the management of long-term orthopaedic conditions such as arthritis.
Home Remedy #6: Easier access
One of the most painful movements for an arthritic dog is lifting his limbs to climb the stairs, or to access the sofa. A ramp purchased from the Pet store can make life less painful, and much easier.
If you think that your dog has joint pain or arthritis in his body or limbs, it’s important that you organise medical diagnosis and treatment. However, these at-home treatments can certainly give your pet a large amount of relief from their arthritic pain.