Like humans, senior dogs are bound to experience health issues as they age. One of the common health issues among dogs, giant breeds, and seniors is osteoarthritis. Although this condition has no permanent cure, you can do a few things to help manage the pain and help your senior dog live a happy and active lifestyle.
What is osteoarthritis?
Firstly, osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is a health condition in which the inflammation of your dog’s joints progressively worsens due to their cartilage’s deterioration.
During their younger years, your dog’s healthy cartilage functions as a cushion between their joints to help them move in full motion.
But as they age, their cartilage will eventually break down, resulting in joint pain and inflammation. Osteoarthritis can develop in any joint, but this condition commonly affects the lower spine and limbs.
What are the risk factors?
Any dog breed can have osteoarthritis, but several factors can make your furry friend more at risk of this condition, like:
- Age (mainly middle-aged to senior dogs)
- Large breeds
- Obese dogs
- Poor nutrition
- Specific injuries (e.g., ligament tears, accidents, fractures)
If your dog is more at risk of osteoarthritis, it’s recommended to have them checked by the vet regularly to help them follow an active lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight.
Manage pain from osteoarthritis
Naturally, as an owner, if the vet has diagnosed your dog with osteoarthritis, you want to do anything to help relieve and manage the pain, especially since this disease has no cure. Read on to learn a few tips to help your furry member deal with the pain and improve their quality of life.
Before you give any supplement or medication to your dog, check with your vet to see if it’s suitable and helpful to ease your dog’s pain.
First, they’ll conduct x-rays to determine how far osteoarthritis has progressed in your dog’s joints and then prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. In some cases, they may also consider light therapy for dogs to reduce pain brought on by canine arthritis.
Besides medications, the vet may include some joint supplements in the prescription to slow the progression of the disease, relieve inflammation, and improve mobility. Joint supplements are also considered safe for long-term use in managing pain.
When choosing a joint supplement for your dog, make sure it has the following ingredients:
- Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate: It’s known to help maintain healthy cartilage.
- Methylsulfonylmethane: This compound can help form new cartilage and alleviate joint pain.
- Turmeric/curcumin: Although frequently used as a human supplement, this compound is known to help reduce inflammation in canine arthritis.
- Hyaluronic acid: It may help your dog’s cartilage become more resistant to injury and pain.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: They’re rich in anti-inflammatory properties and beneficial in managing arthritis pain.
With your dog’s medications and joint supplements, you can help relieve the pain your dog is experiencing and help them live a happy life.
Provide dog ramps
When your dog has osteoarthritis, leaping into your bed or jumping in the back of the car are some activities they can no longer do alone.
So, suppose you see your dog hesitating to do these things or is having difficulty finding its balance before jumping or standing.
In that case, you can provide dog ramps so they can easily go where they want to without experiencing pain or risking injury.
You can sometimes carry them if they still have difficulty reaching certain heights.
Monitor your dog’s diet
At this point, monitoring your dog’s diet is even more critical than ever, especially since they’re aging and suffering from osteoarthritis. Remember, their diet plays a significant role in their overall health.
Furthermore, you must pay close attention to the kind of food they eat and the amount of food you serve, as it can influence their weight, contributing to their pain.
The heavier your dog is, the more watchful you must be with its diet to control weight and keep it in a healthy range.
To help your dog shed a few pounds and reduce the pain in their joints, feed them the right amount of food. When your senior dog reaches a healthy weight, there’s less pressure on the joints, which translates to less pain and better mobility.
Exercise in moderation
Forcing your dog may be the last thing on your mind, considering that they already have mobility issues.
However, allowing your dog to stay in one position for long periods will only worsen the pain and make it harder for them to get up or walk.
Thus, encourage your dog to exercise moderately to improve mobility and reduce pain.
Be careful not to force them to do strenuous exercises, as some dogs are unaware of their limits.
Walking or swimming are excellent low-impact exercises to help stabilize joints, maintain muscle mass, and achieve a healthy weight.
Key takeaway about canine osteoarthritis
Although painful, canine osteoarthritis is manageable.
You can help your dog reduce their pain if you keep up with its medications and supplements, feed them the right amount of food, and assist them in its daily activities.
If your pet’s osteoarthritis worsens, see the vet immediately for more treatment options.