Does your senior dog seem to be slowing down? Approximately 90 percent of senior dogs will eventually develop arthritis in at least one of their limbs. Stiffness, limping and swollen joints are all signs that your dog is experiencing arthritis, and there’s a few ways you can help slow the progression of this painful condition.
1. See Your Vet
When you first begin to notice joint stiffness and pain, you should see your veterinarian right away. Your vet will be able to rule out other possible causes, such as a sprain or muscle injury. They will also be able to prescribe painkillers that can help your dog feel better. Never give your dog human grade painkillers such as Tylenol or aspirin, as these can cause stomach bleeding. Only your veterinarian can determine the right type and amount of pain medication your dog needs based on their weight, body condition, age, other medications and level of pain.
2. Unconventional Treatments
Your veterinarian should offer more options, other than just painkillers. to help improve your senior dog’s mobility. You can also see a holistic veterinarian for alternative ideas; most treatments can be safely used together.
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight will reduce the strain on your dog’s joints. Ask your vet if your dog could stand to lose a few pounds (or ounces, as may be the case for small dogs.)
Some veterinarians offer hydrotherapy, a treatment in which a dog is lowered into warm water and encouraged to swim or walk on a treadmill. Inflamed joints may make it difficult for your dog to exercise, but inactivity will make the condition worse. The warm water makes it easier for your dog to move around, as it is soothing and makes your dog feel weightless. Also ask your veterinarian about acupuncture and cold laser therapy, both of which improve circulation to the joints to encourage the body to heal itself.
At home, you can try massage and a TENS unit to help relieve your dog’s pain. Ask your veterinarian for instructions and a treatment schedule that will work best for your dog.
3. Feed For Joint Health
Foods and supplements high in Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to greatly improve symptoms of arthritis, allowing some dog owners to lower their dosage of pain medications. Do not lower or discontinue your dog’s pain medication without permission from your vet.
Fish oil is easy to add to your dog’s kibble. You can also supplement your dog’s food with fresh foods rich in Omega-3s, such as tinned sardines and cooked, boneless salmon.
Try a senior dog food such as Senior H-Allergen Turkey And Rice to supplement glucosamine chondroitin, which can help repair the cartilage in your dog’s joints. Meat cuts high in cartilage can also help, so you may also want to feed raw beef trachea, chicken or duck feet, pork tails. If your dog has never had these foods before, you will need to start with just one new food per week, and supervise carefully to ensure they chew without gulping.
4. Get A Better Bed
You may notice that your dog’s symptoms are most severe in the morning. They may have trouble getting out of bed. It can help to get them a bed that is easy for them to get in and out of; no high sides.
Look for memory foam beds that are so thick, you can sit on it without feeling the hard floor through the bottom. You can add pillows and blankets for even more cushion.
5. Keep Them Warm
Dogs, just like people, have more pain when it is cold out. Limit your senior dog’s time outside in the winter, making sure to bundle them up when they must go out. You can even make homemade leg warmers for your dog by cutting off the ends of old socks.
Make sure your dog is warm at night by providing plenty of blankets. The Snugglesafe Bed Warmer is great for senior dogs, all you have to do is microwave it for a few minutes to provide hours of warmth.