Many pet owners are under the misconception that dogs aren’t susceptible to arthritis. In reality, however, arthritis is a condition that affects approximately one in every five adult dogs, at some point in their life. The most important part of caring for a dog with arthritis is to first have a veterinarian identify the condition. This may also be the most difficult part, as many dog owners won’t initially realize that their dog is in pain from arthritis.
After your dog has been positively diagnosed with arthritis, there are several things that you can do to provide proper care. Since arthritis is a condition that usually affects the joints, normal exercise may be painful for a dog suffering from arthritis. However, exercise is still important for your dog’s overall health. To compromise, it’s recommended that you take your dog on two short walks per day, instead of one long walk. This will prevent unnecessary stress being put on your dog’s joints.
Another way to care for a dog with arthritis is to try to maintain a healthy weight. Overweight dogs are more prone to have severe arthritis, because of the excess weight being applied to their joints. To help manage a dog with arthritis, it’s highly recommended by most veterinarians that you switch to a weight-management dog food formula.
Fortunately, there are several nutritional supplements available that make caring for a dog with arthritis much easier. The most important nutritional supplements for managing arthritis in dogs are glucosamine, chondroitin and fish oil (which contains Omega 3). These supplements have been proven to help relieve the painful symptoms of arthritis, and are usually available for purchase at pet supply stores. Some stores offer these supplements in capsule form, while some stores offer them as a mixable powder (to be added to a dog’s food).
If your dog has severe arthritis, it may be necessary for you to try massaging your dog’s joints. This is usually best accomplished indoors, around bedtime. Be sure that your dog is comfortable and relaxed before starting. Using a gentle kneading motion, rub the area around the arthritic joint. If you prefer, you can also apply topical heat to your dog’s joints, as this will also help relieve some of the pain.
When caring for a dog with arthritis, another thing to consider is the purchase of a special dog bed. Dogs with arthritis are constantly in pain, and may have trouble sleeping on a conventional dog bed. If your dog has arthritis, try purchasing a bed that is designed for arthritic dogs. These special dog beds are designed to distribute your dog’s weight evenly, which relieves a good deal of pressure from the joints.
Caring for a dog with arthritis requires a certain amount of dedication as a dog owner. Dogs with arthritis may not be able to be very active, but it is extremely important that you don’t ignore their need for exercise. Arthritis is a managable condition, and with the proper care will only have a minor effect on your dog’s overall quality of life.