One of the first signs that your best friend is aging is that he’s finding it difficult to move. This can begin as early as 6 or 7 years of age in larger breeds and occurs later in life in smaller breeds. Arthritis in dogs makes it painful for them to walk, run, jump, and get up from a lying position. Younger dogs can get arthritis for several reasons, but it’s much more common in seniors. This is because as dogs get older, they lose cartilage, which is what cushions their bones. The lack of bone protection causes significant pain.
What helps dogs with arthritis?
1. Keep your dog at a healthy weight. Extra pounds mean excess stress on his joints and cartilage.
2. Ask your vet about proper nutrition for arthritis and joint health. Hills Science Diet offers dog food that is designed specifically for mobility and joint health.
3. Speak with your vet about over the counter vs. prescription medication for your dog’s pain.
4. Consider supplements such as glucosamine chondroitin or fish oil. Again, check with your vet first.
Other ways to help your arthritic dog
- Provide ramps where your dog would need to climb stairs
- Take your dog for shorter but more frequent walks
- Provide opportunities for your dog to swim or provide another non-impactful exercise
- Get him an orthopedic bed – there are plenty to choose from on Amazon
- Do not call him to come to you when he’s lying down unless necessary
Dogs have been tamed for thousands of years but maintain their primal instinct to conceal weaknesses, so, at first, they will tend to hide their pain. But dogs do communicate pain through body language, so it is vital to be observant, especially of senior dogs.
Other signs of pain that could be related to arthritis are licking or chewing a joint, difficulty climbing stairs or jump on couches, changes in how they walk, changes in appetite or sleep, and excessive panting. Dogs in acute pain can also show signs of irritability and even aggression. Any sudden change in your dog’s personality can mean he is in pain.
As soon as you suspect your dog is suffering from arthritis, address the issue immediately. Doing so can spare your dog unnessecary discomfort now, and more aggressive treatments later.