Create A Prescription Medication Plan With Your Vet And Track Your Dogs Progress
Based on your dogs exam findings and medical history, your veterinarian may prescribe certain medications to help decrease joint pain. These include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Muscle relaxants
- Medications to reduce nerve pain
Your dog may take some of these medications on a once-a-day or twice-a-day basis long term. Other medications might be used on an as needed basis. Work with your veterinarian to create the medication plan that is right for your dog and keep your vet updated on how your dog is doing. I advise my clients to keep a simple daily journal for their senior dogs because it helps us chart changes, improvements, potential medication side effects, and make more objective assessments of progress.
By the way, I understand that getting your dog to take prescription medications isnt always a walk in the park. Ive been there with my own four-legged family members. Thats why I came up with my five favorite tips if your dog wont take pills.
A word of caution about pain medications for dogs with arthritis
Never give any human pain medications to your dog unless directed to do so by your veterinarian. Dog-specific NSAIDs are commonly prescribed for arthritic dogs because they effectively reduce inflammation and relieve joint pain. However, you must never give your dog human NSAIDs due to the risk of life-threatening side effects. Learn more in my article: Can I Give My Dog Advil?
Arthritis Affects 4 Out Of 5 Dogs
Canine arthritis is the most common cause of chronic pain in dogs and affects four out of five older dogs.
While it can be prevalent in specific breeds – particularly those who have been selectively bred to be large and heavy – it can occur in dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds.
Looking back, I wish I’d had better awareness around the early signs and symptoms so I could have sought help much earlier.
But now, six months after starting discussions with vets and trying different medications and adjustments to Sammy’s life, he’s much more comfortable and has a better quality of life which is the most important thing.
The best tip I can give, is to seek veterinary advice as early as possible. For too long I said to myself – and others – how Sammy was ‘slowing down’ and ‘getting older’. Of course, he was – but these changes can also be early signs of arthritis. Signs that are easy to miss if you assume that your dog is simply getting older… The earlier you start making changes, the better!
Help Choosing The Best Joint Supplements For Dogs
If youve noticed your canine lagging a little on walks, or lacking enthusiasm when its time to go out, then it might be time to consider a natural joint supplement. In this article, were focusing on the best joint supplement for dogs. Grab a cuppa and strap in for the essentials on what a dog joint supplement should do, the need-to-knows when choosing one for your pooch, and everything in between
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Physical Therapy Options To Treat Arthritis In Dogs
Physical therapy is an umbrella term that includes an array of treatment options, from a simple massage to novel laser therapy. Here is a short review of some physical therapy options for arthritis in dogs treatment.
Massage. Body massage uses the power of touch to induce healing in the body. Massage helps with arthritis by increasing blood flow to the affected joints. Increased blood flow results in an influx of healing compounds and nutrients which can promote joint health.
You can massage your dog yourself but advice from a professional is highly recommended. There are different techniques, and it is helpful to know which one is best as part of your pets arthritis in dogs treatment.
Hydrotherapy. This is a form of physical rehabilitation that is performed underwater. The water provides higher resistance than air which helps build strength and resilience in the limbs.
In some cases, equipment like an underwater treadmill is used to improve a dogs mobility and range of motion. Hydrotherapy can be combined with pharmaceuticals as well as with alternative treatments.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a form of therapy where fine needles are pricked into the skin at specific points to promote healing in the body. The therapy has been practiced on humans for thousands of years but also shows great promise for dog health.
Home Modifications For Dogs With Arthritis
Dogs with arthritis have problems navigating specific areas of the house, such as staircases and slippery floors.
Here are a few creative ideas you can try to modify your house:
- Put down area rugs on slippery floors. You can also use runners, rubber mats, or yoga mats. Doing so will help your dog gain traction on slippery floors and other problematic places.
- Use an absorbent mat where you feed your dog. Feeding an arthritic dog on a non-slip mat will protect them against slipping and falling if water is spilled on the floor.
- Install ramps and steps. This modification can help your dog get up and down from the bed, on and off the couch, or in and out of the car. There are many DIY solutions for dog parents who are naturally born handymen.
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Foods To Avoid If Your Dog Has Arthritis
Joint and mobility issues, like arthritis, are some of the most common health problems among dogs. Arthritis symptoms in your pup can range from being hardly noticeable to completely debilitating, and it can be difficult to watch your best friends mobility decline. While unfortunately, canine arthritis cant be completely cured , there are many things you can do as a pet parent to help keep their symptoms on the lower end of the spectrum and feeding them an anti-inflammatory diet is one of the most important.
Depending on what you choose to feed or not feed your dog, their food can either act as a medicine or a toxin. It can help alleviate the symptoms of disease or fuel them. With just a little awareness and effort on your part, you can begin feeding your dog a diet that helps fight the progression of arthritis, alleviates their discomfort, and contributes to their well-being on every level.
Luckily, your job is simple: educate yourself on which ingredients are good and which are bad, and read the labels. This way youll ensure the food you choose doesnt contain anything thats going to contribute to chronic inflammation, which, as well learn, is an arthritic dogs #1 enemy.
Should I Do Anything Else To Help My Dog Be More Comfortable
There are simple things that any dog owner can provide to a dog with OA that can help with comfort and mobility. These include:
- Soft, padded bedding
- Raised food and water dishes
- Non-skid floor surfaces
- A ramp for entering and leaving a vehicle
- Adhering to prescribed feeding and medication recommendations
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Should I Give My Dog Fish Oil Pills
Fish oil is one of the best supplements to add to your dogs diet. Fish oil supports your canine companions heart health, promotes a silky coat, reduces itchy and flaky skin, and can help relieve allergies and joint pain. It can even help strengthen their immune system and could help them fight canine cancer.
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*Testimonials are for informational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for expert veterinary care. Testimonials are written by actual customers and represent their own observations. These observations are not guaranteed, are not medically substantiated, and may not be typical for other pets.
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Joint Supplements For Canine Arthritis
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acids whose anti-inflammatory effect has been scientifically proven. The fatty acids are found in oily fish like salmon, sardines, and anchovies but they are also available as supplements. Dogs fed omega supplements may need lower NSAID doses to experience pain relief.
Glucosamine. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound in joint cartilage. The body produces glucosamine but may sometimes fail to produce enough due to factors like age, genetics, or illness. By supplementing with glucosamine, you increase the concentration of the compound at the joint and improve cartilage mass and quality.
Chondroitin Sulfate. Chondroitin, similar to glucosamine, is produced by the body but may sometimes be in inadequate amounts. Its main role is to promote water retention and elasticity at the joints.
Both glucosamine and chondroitin are usually extracted from sea animals like oysters and green-lipped mussels. Green-lipped mussels are a type of shellfish native to New Zealand. The mussels are very rich in both glucosamine and chondroitin and also contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally-occurring fluid in the body that is very hydrophilic . Due to its water-loving nature, it attracts water to the joint space, promoting lubrication and fluidity of the joint. The acid also has an anti-inflammatory effect which is helpful in slowing the progression of arthritis.
Canned Dog Food The Cons
One of the main cons of canned dog food is that it often uses thickening agents to make the food hold its shape. One of these thickeners is carrageenan, which has been associated with inflammatory bowel disease , acid reflux, and intestinal ulceration. Also, most dog food cans are lined with Bisphenol-A , which has been associated with some health problems in people.
And theres the cost as well. Canned food is almost always more expensive than kibble of the same quality, and cost can add up quickly especially if you have a large dog or multiple dogs.
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Keep Dog Nails Trimmed
Nails that impact a dogs mobility can be heard. If you hear clicking when your dog walks, its time to cut her nails or have them done. One rogue toenail is enough to make your dog distribute her weight in a way that aggravates her arthritis.
To verify your dogs nail length is not aggravating her arthritis, make sure you can slip a piece of paper between her nail and the floor when shes standing. For a refresher on how to trim nails see this article: Senior Dog Nail Trimming.
Symptoms Of Canine Arthritis
Arthritis often comes on gradually and may not be obvious at first. But it is important to be on the lookout for the early signs of this disease in your senior pet to prevent any undue suffering. Your dog may not be crying or limping, but that doesnt mean he is not in pain. Other subtle symptoms, like tiring more easily or a reluctance to engage in certain activities can also be signs that your pup is feeling some discomfort. Other common symptoms of arthritis in dogs can include:
- Hesitancy to jump, lay down, or get up
- Stiff or abnormal gait
- Difficulty jumping or climbing stairs
- Hiding or reluctance to interact with family
If you notice these changes in your dog, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. Your veterinarian will perform a full head to tail physical examination, including feeling your dogs joints and assessing their full range of motion. Your veterinarian may also recommend taking radiographs, also known as x-rays, of any joints that he or she finds particularly concerning. These images will allow your veterinarian to evaluate the degenerative changes in the joint, which will help guide the treatment plan for your dog.
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Install Area Rugs Or Mat Flooring
I used to be really proud of my homes gleaming hardwood floors, well, I guess I still am but they are currently covered in area rugs because they are not good for treating dogs with arthritis at home.
Its really hard for bigger dogs to get up from a hardwood floor and all that strain makes the progression of arthritis more rapid. On top of that, an arthritic dog simply doesnt have the core muscles necessary to confidently walk across slippery hardwood.
If you have wall to wall carpeting, that is great! If not, a bunch of sturdy area rugs will work. Just make sure they have grip backs or place them on top of something like this: rug gripping material or use carpet tape so your arthritic does doesnt have a wipe-out.
The other solution is those roll out mats with rubber backing. They are excellent, dont move and will stop your arthritic dog from sliding.
Medications To Relieve Dog Arthritis Pain
Pain control medications are the mainstay of arthritis treatment in dogs. But before you go looking in your medicine cabinet, it is very important to remember that you should never give your dog any over the counter medication or any medication not specifically prescribed by your veterinarian. Although it can be hard to see your dog in pain, giving him a medication not prescribed for him can be very dangerous. Many human medications are toxic to dogs, so always consult your veterinarian prior to giving your dog any new medication or supplement.
The most common medications used to treat canine arthritis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. These medications reduce inflammation in the affected joints, alleviating pain and improving mobility. Some dogs may take these medications only as needed, while others may need to rely on them daily long term to stay pain free. Depending on the severity of your dogs condition, other medications such as amantadine, gabapentin, tramadol, or opioids may also be used to manage arthritis pain and improve your dogs quality of life.
Because medications like NSAIDs can affect the liver and kidneys when used long term, your vet may recommend checking your pets blood work regularly to monitor the function of these vital organs. Regular follow ups with your veterinarian may also be necessary to monitor your dogs response to treatment and to adjust the treatment plan as needed.
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What Causes Arthritis In Pets
Arthritis develops in pets because of age-related changes in the joint similar to that which occurs in people. Pets that are very active may be prone to mild injuries that can later develop into arthritic joints as they get older.
Other pets may be born with a hereditary problem that develops into arthritis as they age. Some breeds, including German shepherds, golden retrievers and Rottweilers, may be more prone to developing arthritis as a result of a condition like hip dysplasia, which causes loose hip joints.
When arthritis is suspected, a veterinarian can confirm it, often through X-rays of the affected joint. Once the condition is diagnosed, a veterinarian will then come up with a treatment plan for each patient.
Veterinarians generally prefer nonsurgical treatment. Although surgical options exist, including joint replacement, most dogs can be successfully managed through a combination of approaches including weight management, exercise, joint supplements, prescription anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDs and physical therapy.
Heres how each of these works to help arthritic dogs stay healthy and active.
Weight Management & Nutrition
One of the most important aspects of managing arthritis is making sure your pup maintains a healthy weight.
Excess weight will only further complicate their condition, and lead to more joint deterioration as time passes.
Your vet will likely discuss the best ways to keep your pup slim and trim, and may even suggest prescription diets that are created for optimal joint health.
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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.
Dietary Modifications For Joint Pain
Diet is the cornerstone of your dogs well-being, including joint function. Paying attention to the amount and quality of food the dog is eating can easily help prevent and manage arthritis.
Keep Track of Your Dogs Food Intake
Dog parents are often tempted to spoil their dogs, including accidental overfeeding episodes. After all, its difficult to resist those large, begging eyes.
That being said, there are better ways to show your love than through food.
Feeding your dog enough food and maintaining its quality will keep them in good shape for a very long time. This means less pain and improved mobility.
Take Care of the Right Ingredients
Its not only the amount of food but also the quality that may cause obesity in dogs.
Canines are strict carnivores and natural hunters, meaning their diet should consist of meat, organs, and occasional fruits with selected vegetables.
Harsh as it may sound, the vast majority of dog food in supermarkets shouldnt be allowed for sale in the first place.
This food is usually full of processed ingredients, colorings, grains, sugars, and unnecessary fillers that contribute to inflammation and can make arthritis even worse.
Consult your veterinarian or a dog dietician to get a better understanding of your dogs nutritional needs.
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