If you own a dog, there’s a good chance you will have to deal with Canine Arthritis at some stage, as it’s become the most common health problem in senior dogs but signs can start from as early as 4 years of age! Arthritis refers to a degenerative joint disease, where the cartilage inside a joint wears away, leading to inflammation and pain, and is usually referred to as Osteoarthritis (OA) or Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) by Vets. A clear giveaway to Arthritis is usually your poochy-pal’s reluctance to move about – whether it be no longer jumping onto the sofa, inability to play for long periods of time, avoiding any running, or waking up stiff and sore in the morning.
So, we thought we would compile together some of our go-to tips for dealing with Canine Arthritis…
Overweight dogs are prone to Arthritis progressing more rapidly, due to the greater amount of pressure placed on joints. Therefore, losing weight can help alleviate some of the strain while certain foods can also help relieve arthritic symptoms – such as omega 3 fatty acids, chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine.
Hand in hand with diet, is exercise. Even with arthritis, exercise is an important part of a dog’s everyday life – to help strengthen muscles and ligaments, and reduce the risk of injury. Non-weight bearing and gentle exercises like swimming are a good alternative to the usual running around or chasing a ball because it will reduce the pressure and strain placed on joints. At Direct Vet Services, we offer Hydrotherapy for dogs, which can be an excellent and effective way to help strengthen the muscles around any injured joints, while also decreasing their aches and pains (research has shown that alternating periods of warmth and cold can alleviate such pains).
Providing as much padding around home is the goal – whether it be carpeted or padded steps leading up to the couch or bed, non-slip floor coverings to reduce any skidding, a gentle ramp on any stairs, and well-padded raised bed are all recommendations. Also, we suggest placing bedding away from cold or damp areas as just like us, this can lead to your pooch feeling stiff.
Massage & Grooming:
Who doesn’t love a good massage? So does your dog, especially if he/she is suffering from Arthritis. A massage can help improve flexibility, circulation, mobility and of course relaxation. Try using a warm over problem areas (just make sure to avoid using excess heat).
As dogs suffering with Arthritis may have limited movement, it can be difficult for them to clean themselves – give them a helping hand by keeping up their grooming schedule.
Large breeds of dogs are more prone to Arthritis – including German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, etc., and tend to develop symptoms earlier on in their life. Not only that, but diseases that can lead to arthritis like hip and elbow dysplasia can be inherited from parent pooches, so it’s always a good idea to know your pet’s history.
If your dog is suffering from Arthritis, or you think he/she might be, we recommend coming into the clinic to discuss what the options are and how best to treat it. We really encourage doing this before administering any types of over-the-counter medicines (as sometimes these can be counterproductive). The good news is that with the right care, and a little work, your dog can regain an active lifestyle.
If you are concerned about your dog’s health, or would like to discuss treatment options for your pooch’s arthritic symptoms, book a consult with one of our amazing Vet’s here, or by calling the clinic on 03 9369 1822.