6 Signs Your Dog Has Arthritis & How To Help
Does your dog have canine arthritis? Aches and pains are common as we get older. The same goes for your pup. Canine arthritis is one of the most common causes of chronic pain for older pets, affecting at least one in five dogs. The disease is caused by daily wear and tear.
Although canine arthritis is common in older dogs, younger dogs are not immune to this painful disease. In younger dogs, it can be a result of a joint injury. Some breeds like Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Labradors are also prone to hip and elbow dysplasia.
6 signs your dog may have arthritis
Symptoms of arthritis may not be obvious in the early stages of the disease, but as pain increases your dog will lose more and more mobility. Look out for these telltale signs:
1. Your dog suddenly develops a limp.
2. Awkward movements and difficulty standing up.
3. Poor posture.
4. Your usual active pet suddenly refuses to walk or jump.
5. Compulsive licking of joints.
6. Changes in temperament.
Arthritis slowly worsens over time, causing pain and inflammation in the joints. Thankfully, most dogs can live happily for many years after diagnosis if their condition is managed appropriately.
Tips to help manage chronic pain from arthritis
Exercise and weight management
Arthritis typically affects weight-bearing joints so any excess weight will lower the chance of long term mobility. To manage your dog's weight consult your vet to determine the most suited ratio of exercise to food.
Even though your pup experiences pain, they must continue to get exercise. It might be necessary to reduce the time and distance of walks or forms of exercise but movement is important to ensure that their joints do not seize up.
Massage and heat therapy
Massaging the muscles around the painful joints can relieve the pain (a rub is of course never something to be denied!). This increases the blood flow and helps strengthen the muscles.
Putting a heat pack on sore joints also relieves pain. Microwavable heat packs are an affordable and easy way to help your pup. Just be careful to not burn your dog.
Look out for inflammatory foods in your dog's diet such as grains and nightshade vegetables. Most dry food products on the market use fillers like ‘bran’ or ‘by-product’ and despite them being nutritionally beneficial they can be detrimental to your dog’s joint health. Thankfully, there are lots of foods that can provide inflammation relief, from kale and celery to mango and blueberries.
Add over counter supplements like antioxidants and glucosamine to your dog’s diet. Glucosamine is an amino sugar that assists in the development of new cartilage which is essential for joint health. You can also add cod liver oil and omega-3 fatty acids to their diet. Speak to your vet about the best supplements for your dog.
After you have tried all other remedies, and your pet is still in pain due to arthritis, it might be time to speak to your vet about getting the right medication for your dog.
There are different ways to manage pain depending on your dog’s medical history. The drugs most prescribed are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAID). These drugs help reduce stiffness and swelling, reduce inflammation and bring relief to your dog.