Recognizing Arthritis In Senior Dogs
As arthritis progresses, some older dogs will have a harder time standing up from a lying position or jumping up into the car or onto the bed. Others may look stiff, act sore, or begin limping when they walk.
It can be easy to attribute the signs of arthritis to age-related slowing down and assume this is normal behavior for a senior dog. However, many times this isnt the case.
If your dog is in the golden yearsor closethere are simple steps you can take at home to give the gifts of mobility, comfort, and more good days. However, before you break out your DIY building skills, shop online, or implement any of the other tips I am about to share with you, first please make an appointment with your dogs veterinarian.
Hill Walking For Muscle Strength And Co
Walking up, down and sideways across hills is beneficial for dogs with arthritis as it helps to strengthen muscles and maintain balance and co-ordination.
Walking uphill activates the dogs hindquarters, so it is beneficial for dogs with arthritis in their hips or back legs. When the dog walks uphill, they extend their hip joint and activate the gluteals and hamstring group of muscles for propulsion. These muscles support the hip joint. Uphill walking also increases range of motion of the stifle and tarsal joints, thereby also activating the muscles that support them.
Walking downhill is good for dogs with arthritis in the shoulder and front legs. Downhill walking activates the muscles of the shoulder and chest stabiliser muscles to apply braking forces.
Walking across the slope, aids general balance and co-ordination while also providing muscle strengthening benefits.
Is Walking Good For Older Dogs
Most dogs still love to go for a walk, regardless of how old they get. Be prepared to rethink your daily dog walk. You will probably have to change one long, daily walk into several, shorter walks. You may even need to make rest stops along the way.
Let your dog set the pace. Be mindful of the weather older dogs can struggle to maintain a healthy body temperature. Avoid the heat of the day, and equally, consider whether its too cold. Our dogs paws can really suffer on hot or very cold surfaces alike.
Whats the terrain like? A slip for an older dog can result in a more damaging injury that his younger counterpart. When I take Mino out in his dog wheelchair, he has good footing on tarmac and grass, but slides around on gravelly, dirt tracks.
Also, as dogs get older, going up and down hills may become more difficult too. With Mino, there is a very slight uphill incline on part of one of our walks. I always try to encourage him to take this stretch more slowly he still thinks hes a puppy!
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Top Exercises For Arthritic Dogs
Although exercising is a good idea for arthritic dogs, you should be careful about which exercises and how much movement your dog does so it does not endure more pain.
Physical therapy programs are great for arthritic dogs, since professionals can help your dog stretch and move to target certain stiff areas. Additionally, massages are good for relieving tension and improving blood flow to the affected joints.
However, you dont always need a pro to get your dog moving. Here are some of the best exercises you can help your dog do to keep it agile even into its later years.
If your dogs arthritis is severe, your vet may caution against certain types of exercise that may be suitable for dogs with early signs of arthritis. Be sure to discuss exercise routines with your vet before implementing them to avoid injury to your pup.
Additionally, avoid any exercises that require high impact to the joints and long durations. Hiking on uneven terrain, jumping to catch a frisbee or chasing a ball across a field are sure to cause your dog more pain than benefit, so dont push your pup to do more than it is capable of.
How Online Vet And Emergency Fund Can Be Useful
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and since our pets become our children, Online Vet by Petcube is the village you didnt know you needed. For just $20 a month, you have access to your own team of trained veterinarians who are on hand to offer you guidance and answer your questions 24/7.
Now you dont need to hightail it to the vet whenever youre concerned. Simply send a photo or video to Online Vet and get advice in real-time. This will reduce unnecessary vet visits, saving you money and your pet the trauma.
If the news isnt good and your pet needs emergency care, having an emergency fund can be a literal lifesaver. You can add an emergency fund for just $9 a month. The fund will pay up to $3000 annually for emergency vet treatment.
Lets face it, its heartbreaking enough to see your best buddy unwell, but to find you arent financially able to afford the treatment your pet needs is now a thing of the past.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis In Dogs
Arthritis can be difficult to spot in its early stages. Usually, the symptoms only become apparent when the disease has already progressed quite far and the joint has already deteriorated significantly.
The following are indicators that joint disease may be present:
- Stiffness and difficulty getting up
- Reluctance to run and jump and play
- Pain when touched or petted
- Difficulty raising a leg or squatting to go to the toilet.
If you spot these signs, its a good idea to get your dog seen by a vet. Your vet may require x-rays to rule out other conditions to determine the extent of the joint deterioration.
Arthritis Is Extremely Common In Dogs
Arthritis is common joint problem among dogs. Its estimated that 20% of dogs older than one year of age and 80% of dogs over 8 years of age are affected. Arthritis develops over time and causes joint tissue damage and inflammation. Its Senior Pet Month so I wanted to focus on some exercise tips to keep our senior pets with arthritis active and healthy.
As in humans, canine arthritis becomes more symptomatic with age. More than half of 2-year-old golden retrievers show radiographic signs of degenerative joint disease, and more than 90 percent of susceptible dogs show signs by old age.
65% of all breeds of dogs between 7 and 11 years of age have signs of arthritis. Although arthritis can occur at any age the average of all dogs diagnosed is at 9 years of age. One in three of dogs diagnosed with arthritis is overweight.
Keeping your dog fit and trim throughout his life has been found to decrease the likelihood of developing arthritis.Unfortunately its not a guarantee and many of our pets are effected by arthritis already.
In dogs, several larger breeds are most prone to arthritis: golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, Newfoundlands and St. Bernards.- University of Pennsylvania
Besides exercise there are certain supplements, medications, physical therapy treatments, and diets you can discuss with your veterinarian to help your dog manage the pain and symptoms associated with arthritis.
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How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has Arthritis
Common signs of canine osteoarthritis include stiffness after rest, difficulty getting up, limping or avoiding the use of one leg. Arthritic dogs may also be less active, or reluctant to use stairs or get in or out of a vehicle. For pets with arthritis, just going for a walk or playing in the yard can result in joint pain and muscle soreness.
As in people, arthritis is a degenerative process defined as inflammation of a joint. It can occur in both young and old dogs, though it is more common as dogs age. Sometimes, as in Otis case, arthritis develops following an injury. It can impact all components of the joint, but the cartilage the connective tissue covering the bones where a joint is formed is the most affected.
Unfortunately, canine arthritis cannot be cured. Instead, the goal of treatment of arthritis in dogs is to reduce inflammation and increase comfort to improve a dogs quality of life regardless of age.
Early Telltale Signs Your Dog May Have Some Arthritis
Arthritis is a progressive degenerative disease affecting the joints of dogs, causing swelling, pain inflammation. This can be debilitating to dogs if left untreated. However, if we can detect signs of it occurring early on, we can take steps to make sure our pets live long happy, healthy and pain free lives.
As our pets age they will naturally slow down, but slowing down may also be due to discomfort in the joints. Slowness to rise from lying down, reluctance to get up off the bed or jump on the couch may all be early signs of arthritis and warrant a check up with the vet or animal physio. A vet check is essential if your dog has an actual lameness on one or more limbs.
If your dog has had a joint surgery at some time such as surgery for cruciate disease, medial patella luxation, hip or elbow dysplasia, shoulder instability or OCD, chances are very high, that these joints will have some arthritis as the dog gets older.
If your dog was super active as s younger dog, chasing the ball flat out every day, running for long distances or flat out with other dogs at the off leash park, then these are also prime candidates for earlier onset arthritis.
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Consult With Your Vet
If you have a dog with arthritis, always consult with your vet on what to do. Your vet can evaluate the severity of your dogs condition and recommend a safe exercise plan for you and your dog.
For more information on dog arthritis, visit the Elizabeth Veterinary Clinic office in Roselle, New Jersey. You can also call 245-7853 to book an appointment.
If You Want To Help Your Dog With Arthritis First Call Your Vet
Going to the vet is extremely important, especially for older dogs. I would argue that other than you, your veterinarian is your dogs biggest ally.
As a veterinarian, I believe its my job to listen carefully to what dog parents are saying and read between the lines to pick up on changes that they may not realize are significant. A thorough nose-to-tail examination and some diagnostic tests complete the picture. Then we can work together to tackle whatever challenges your dog is facing.
If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with arthritis based on a physical examination and your observations, dont despair. There are countless ways to help a dog with arthritis at home!
Options like pain medications, joint supplements for dogs, physical therapy, laser therapy for dogs, and acupuncture can all help relieve arthritis pain in dogs. There isnt a particular treatment that is superior to the others. In fact, the best results often come from a multimodal approachusing several of these options together. Much like people, each dog responds differently, so finding the right combination for your dog can take a bit of trial and error but pay huge dividends in quality of life.
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Healthy Joints Happy Pets
Helping older or arthritic pets keep their joints healthy and their bodies in good condition can let them enjoy walks and playtime throughout the duration of their lives. Even pets with advanced arthritis can maintain a good quality of life and stay active with the help of a veterinarian and good treatment plan.
Sadly, we lost Otis a few years ago at the age of 11. But for the three years following his surgery, we were able to manage his arthritis and maintain his comfort with a combination of weight management, exercise, NSAIDs, essential fatty acids and joint supplements. He was able to get back to the activities he loved and play with our other three dogs. It warmed our hearts to see his quality of life return to a happy, healthy one for his remaining years.
Rehab Or Physical Therapy
Canine rehabilitation and physical therapy specialists work with dogs that are arthritic or out of condition to improve limb function, rebuild muscle and assist in weight management. Specific exercises for arthritic pets, such as little jumps known as cavalettis, may be tailored to enhance limb movement while providing comfort. Helping an arthritic dogs ability to move around better will allow it to exercise more and improve its muscle tone while assisting in weight loss.
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Diet And Supplements To Treat Arthritis In Dogs
Your dogs diet is always of the utmost importance and even more so if your dog has arthritis. Dr. Klein says, weight management is prime, for arthritic dogs. Excessive weight causes extra strain on your dogs body and joints. Although exercise may be difficult, especially if the arthritis is severe, you can work with your veterinarian to find appropriate activities. Additionally, you can pay close attention to his diet.
Make sure you have the right food for your dog and that it meets his nutritional needs. Prescription foods sold by veterinarians might be particularly useful in helping your dogs arthritis. These foods often contain natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, or Omega fatty acids.
Furthermore, you might want to consider a food containing glucosamine or giving glucosamine or chondroitin as supplements. These sulfates are the building blocks of healthy cartilage and appear to stimulate the body to make more cartilage. Dr. Klein says that studies on glucosamine and chondroitin are conflicting. However, some demonstrate a beneficial effect on arthritis pain.
Should I Exercise My Pet With Arthritis
If your pet has arthritis it does not necessarily mean that they no longer require exercise. In fact, staying active can actually help your pet manage the symptoms of arthritis.
Your Veterinarian can help you design an arthritis management program for your pet that will address his individual needs. With the right combination of medication, supplements, diet and exercise your pet can continue to lead an active happy life.
Tips for keeping your dog active:
Be careful not to over exert your pet. Excessive panting, unusual gait or limping are signs to stop exercising and consult your Veterinarian. Over exertion can harm and injure your pet so be sure to stick to the program your Veterinarian provided.
What about my cat?
Cats can also get arthritis and exercise is also important for them too though it can be more of a challenge.
- Entice them to play on the ground with a toy.
- Purchase a harness for your cat. They are available at most pet stores and it is a great way to safely take your cat in your yard for a supervised short walk.
- Place his food and water dishes in a separate area in the house away from their kitty litter box. This will encourage him to walk a little further.
- Swimming, unfortunately, may not be appealing to most cats.
- Avoid toys or games that encourage jumping which can be harmful to arthritic joints.
- You can also try massage techniques on your cat. Ask your Veterinarian to show you how.
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Activities Not Recommended For Dogs With Arthritis
CARE does not recommend the following activities for dogs with arthritis:
- Going for a jog/ run
- Frisbee or jumping up to catch a ball
There are numerous other canine sports that involve varying degrees of jumping, running and explosive activity. In general, these sports would put increased force on the joints of dogs and CARE does not typically recommend them.
Use Ramps Where Needed
If you have a big dog that cannot be easily lifted, consider getting ramps for areas your dog used to jump up to. This includes cars, couches, porches, decks, and similar heights. Dog ramps can be purchased through most pet retailers, so shop around for the ones that suit your dog best. A good dog ramp has a surface that provides traction, such as rubber or a sandpaper-type grit. If possible, a ramp for your staircase would be wonderful. However, this is not practical for many homes, so stair treads may be best.
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Limit Mobility Commands To Only When Necessary
Surely your dog has earned a lifetime supply of treats simply because theyre awesome. Now that your dog has arthritis and youre trying to treat the condition at home, its a good time to stop insisting that your dog sit, lay down shake paws etc, in order to receive a treat.
If you still want your dog to perform for treats, you could ask for a kiss , hug or a bark or hide them in places that are easy to find and access.
Principle #: Building Blocks
Therapeutic exercises, which help build muscle strength and keep joints mobile, start with a foundation of basic obedience commands and tricks.
Here are the ones your dog should know before you add more challenging exercises:
- Here/ Touch
If your dog does not already know these commands, we recommend that you teach them, working with a professional dog trainer if needed.
NOTE: Never use force when training! Dogs must be engaged in the activity because they want to. This will require using a reward to train with such as food, praise, or a toy.
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Principle #: Progression Matters
The body adapts to the forces placed upon it . We use this principle to increase strength, endurance, and flexibility. But, in order to make gains in fitness, you need to increase the amount of force gradually. If you want to run a marathon , you train by gradually increasing the distance that you run so that your muscles, tendons, bones, heart, and lungs can adapt.