Dog arthritis is one of the most common
diseases that affect canines, especially large breed dogs (60-90 lbs). Just
as human arthritis, dog arthritis tends to get worse with age.
Here are 10 tips that may help your
- Slip-free Flooring. Hardwood and tile
floors are slippery and can be very difficult for dogs with arthritis to
move around. Placing carpet or area rugs will help secure your dog's
footing. This can help prevent your dog from slipping and getting
- Soft Bed. Soft bedding can help support
your dog’s bones and joints and make your pet more comfortable. This can
be especially important in thin dogs in which bony prominences are
likely to rub on hard surfaces. Some beds are made especially for dogs
with arthritis, such as waterbeds, hammock beds, and beds with plenty of
- Ramps or Cubes. Stairs and furniture can
become difficult obstacles for your aging companion. Ramps or specially
designed cubes can help pets safely climb stairs, get into or out of bed
or get in and out of your vehicle. Ramps can be made of plastic or wood
and are available from many pet catalogs. A product called "Puppy
Stairs" consists of soft modular cubes that fit together in combinations that
permit pets to climb up or down from beds or sofas. These cubes are made
of soft rubber. They have rounded corners and washable covers.
- Medication. Various medications are available that can help
your dog feel better. Medications include drugs such as Deramaxx®,
Rimadyl® or Etogesic®. These drugs are classified as non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs and work to suppress inflammation and pain.
Other medications such as Cosequin® can also be beneficial by providing
your dog’s body with necessary nutrients for cartilage repair and
function. See your veterinarian to discuss if any of these medications
could benefit your dog.
- Peace & Quiet. As your dog ages, he may not be as tolerant or
patient as he used to be. Sore joints make it difficult for your pet to
enjoy rambunctious playful children. Supervise playtime and consider
keeping your dog away from very young children. Even parties and holiday
time can be distressing for an arthritic dog. Your dog may want to join
in the festivities regardless of the discomfort. To reduce joint pain
and inflammation, you may want to limit your arthritic dog’s time as the
center of attention.
- Massage. By massaging your dog, you can increase his or her
flexibility, circulation, calmness and a general sense of wellness.
Professional animal massage therapists are available to provide your pet
a more thorough treatment.
- Weight Control and Dietary Therapy. Arthritis is more of a
problem in obese pets. Weight loss can be beneficial by reducing the
workload on your dog’s bones and joints. In addition to basic weight
loss, there are diets formulated for dogs with arthritis that may be
beneficial for your dog. Diets, such as Hills® Science Diet® j/d™ and
Purina® JM Joint Mobility™ have been shown to help dogs with arthritis
maintain weight, reduce pain and improve mobility.
- Exercise. Modest daily exercise can help some dogs. Special
care is needed, so it is important to first see your veterinarian, who
can recommend an appropriate exercise program. Exercise can strengthen
your dog’s muscles and ligaments thus reducing your dog’s injury
potential and risk.
- Extra Time. Don't rush a dog with arthritis. It often takes
them extra time to walk, climb stairs, or get in and out of the car.
Support and help your arthritic dog if needed or just give your pet the
extra time to get around.
- Grooming. Grooming should not be neglected, especially in the
older dog. Arthritic dogs have a difficult time keeping themselves
clean, especially in those hard to reach areas. Help your dog stay clean
by trimming the hair around the rear end. Brushing will help remove mats
and tangles, which can injure delicate older skin.
Follow these top 10 tips, and you’ll be able to keep your arthritic dog
living longer, stronger, happier and healthier.
Editor's note: Another problem dogs of all ages,
and humans, face is light-induced sleep deprivation. Melatonin, which is
essential to proper sleep, requires darkness. As we (and dogs) age,
melatonin is harder to produce and our sleep is less productive. Light at
night interferes with melatonin production. Reducing or eliminating
night-time light reduces this problem, and we need all the help we can get.
So do our pets!
Remove indoor night lights, if possible. If that's
not possible, then look at ways to shield or reduce the light output away
from sleeping areas. If you are using outdoor solar lights, either replace
them with properly shaded lights that illuminate only the walkway, or remove
About the Author
PetPlace.com columns, Dog safety and health expert, Dr. Debra Primovic has
helped thousands of dog owners keep their
dogs living longer and stronger. For more information, check out
www.petplace.com for 8,000+ veterinarian approved articles guaranteed to
keep you from compromising the care of your dog.