Twenty percent of all dogs are affected by arthritis. Arthritis is a progressive disease that worsens over time, so it is important to keep your pet as comfortable as possible and minimize pain so that they can function as normally as possible. Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss ways to help your dog with arthritis.
How to help your dog with arthritis
- Maintain a normal body weight: Excessive weight can put more strain on your dog’s joints and make it more difficult to get up and around. With 50% of pets being overweight, talk with your veterinarian about options for weight loss.
- Exercise: Because older dogs sleep more, they are less active. Decreased activity causes them to lose muscle mass in the hind limbs which make getting up more difficult. Exercise will help you dog maintain a normal muscle mass.
- Medication: There are a variety of medications that can help your dog with pain management. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the primary treatment for dogs with arthritis. Tramadol and gabapentin are newer drugs that are also available for the treatment of this chronic disease. There are many nutraceuticals and supplements available that can also aid in pain relief.
- Physical Medicine: Examples of physical medicine includes physical therapy, laser therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage. These additional treatments can help restore your dog’s normal movement and strength. Also, you may be able to decrease medications with the addition of physical medicine.
- Modify your dog’s environment: These are easy and simple steps that you can make at home to help keep your pet more comfortable
- Raise food and water dishes to relieve back and neck pain
- Keep your pet warm and dry
- Pad sleeping surfaces
- Use ramps instead of stairs when possible
- Slip free flooring can be achieved by adding more area rugs or restricting access to areas by using baby gates. Anna Coffin has discovered a new product call toe grips which will help your dog grip the floor with these additional aids.
It can be difficult to keep a dog with arthritis completely pain-free. Using a combination of these techniques will help your dog be more comfortable.