Arthritis is a common, painful condition that affects one out of five adult dogs- more than eight million in all.
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. It is caused by degeneration over time and can develop quickly and prematurely following joint injury. The first signs might include stiffness, lagging behind on walks, or perhaps difficulty jumping up.
Often, these signs are mistaken as part of the natural aging process. But chances are, the real cause is arthritis. The first step to take is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to identify what’s causing your pet’s discomfort.
If arthritis is the problem, your veterinarian can recommend the best treatment option for your dog’s condition, such as:
Long-term pain relief. A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that’s approved for long-term use may be prescribed to relieve your dog’s pain and inflammation, thereby improving quality of life.
Weight-loss/exercise program. Taking off excess weight will help decrease stress on affected joints, while moderate
exercise can help prevent decreased joint function.
Cartrophen Injections. These stimulate the body to protect the cartilage that it has left and can slow progression of arthritis.
Diet change. Your veterinarian may recommend a diet specially designed to meet your pet’s needs, such as Hill’s J/D. Dietary additives such as glucosamine and chondroitin can also make a big difference.
Massage. A side effect of joint pain is always going to be muscle soreness as dogs don’t walk with a normal gait. Daily massage to loosen these muscles can help getting your best friend moving around better.
An exercise program is key to maintaining your pet’s health and fitness. Before you begin, check with your veterinarian to be sure your plans are suited to your pet’s physical condition. The hotter times of the day (between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) should be avoided. It should also be noted that low temperatures can cause shortness of breath in older animals.
Older pets may require a lot of water during exercise, as their body temperatures rise quickly and some pets may also have conditions which require them to drink more in general. It’s up to you to be sure your senior pet is healthy and in shape for the activity you’ve chosen. Be sure they don’t exceed their limitations. Sometimes the mind is willing but the body can’t deliver.
Maintaining a familiar routine with your animal is an easy way to minimize stress in his or her life. In your pet’s younger years, exercise is a key part of this routine and should not be forgotten as your pet grows older, always bearing in mind his or her changing physical condition.
Providing moderate exercise will help with weight control, keep muscles toned and improve circulation. If you notice that your pet tires easily or has trouble breathing while walking, be sure to bring that to the attention of your veterinarian.