Often times we get our dogs as puppies. We spend their lives training them, playing with them, caring for them and loving them with all our hearts. Watching our dog grow old can be hard. As your dog ages, you’ve probably noticed that they’ve slowed down quite a bit and appear to be more “careful” with their movements when they lay down or get up. This is usually due to dog arthritis pain. Unfortunately, arthritis in aging dogs is very common. While there currently isn’t a cure, here are a few ways you can soothe your old dog’s pain.
What is Arthritis?
The simple definition is “inflammation of the joints.” Normally, your dog’s joints are covered by a thin layer of cartilage along with joint fluid. This helps them move smoothly and freely. If the cartilage gets damaged, either from an injury, overuse, or abnormal development, it becomes less fluid and causes friction in the joint. As the bone surfaces rub together, it constricts movement and causes your pooch discomfort when they try to move.
How Can I Ease My Dog’s Arthritis Pain?
Please Note: depending on the severity of your dog’s arthritis, these options may not be enough. Consult your veterinarian for a specific treatment plan for dogs with severe cases.
It may seem counterintuitive to make your dog move, but getting them daily exercise helps them maintain mobility and keeps them healthy. When taking your daily walk, let your dog go at their own leisurely pace and give them time to sniff around. Non-weight-bearing exercises, such as swimming, are also great to keep them in shape without putting excess stress on their joints.
Excess weight means excess pressure on your dog’s joints. Feeding them the proper amount of nutritious food, along with exercise, keeps your dog at a healthy weight and decreases the load on their joints. Also, high nutrition content lets your dog’s body work more efficiently and fight off arthritis more effectively.
Massaging your dog a couple minutes a day actually helps to slow down the process of arthritis. Lightly kneading your dog’s muscles can stimulate their blood flow, relieve muscle tension and allow excess fluid around their joints to drain. Gently stretching during your doggie massage also helps to improve their joint mobility.
Hot & Cold Therapy Products
Heat and ice are great ways to stimulate blood flow and ease the pain in your arthritic dog. Special pet heat and ice packs, therapy wraps and orthopedic beds are all great and easy options.
Modifying Your Home
Because getting around can be more difficult, small adjustments around the house can make a world of difference. For dogs that go in the car or on the bed a lot, a pair of pet steps can save your pup the pain of jumping up or down on swollen joints. If your home is mostly hardwood or laminate, consider adding rugs where your dog spends a lot of their time. Slippery floors make it even harder for your sore pooch to get up or lay down so giving them traction eases their burden.
We ache when we see our furry family members in daily pain, but with a combination of these tips, you can make your senior dog a little bit more comfortable as they live out their golden years.
What do you do to help your older dog manage their pain? For some good reminders on caring for your aging pooch, read this blog on Taking Care of Older Dogs.