Friday, September 24, 2010

Caring For A Dog With Arthritis

Dogs of all breeds and sizes can be affected by arthritis, which is pain and inflammation in the joints. While arthritis is generally associated with older dogs it may actually inflect dogs of any age.  Because “old age” varies based on the size of a dog, old age may set in at 7 years old for a larger dog or 13 years old for a small dog. 
The best thing you can do is watch for the common symptoms associated with arthritis.   Common symptoms for you to watch for include a reluctance to walk,  jump, or play, limping, a sudden reaction to you touching a sore joint (snaps at you or yelps with pain), favoring one leg over another, difficulty getting up and an increasing stiffness in the morning.
If your companion is showing signs of arthritis there are many things you can do to make her feel more comfortable. 
First of all, is she carrying a few extra pounds?  If so, help her lower her weight through diet and mild exercise.  Those extra pounds are really causing her discomfort.
Where does she sleep?  If she sleeps with you in your bed, place a footstool at the side of the bed so she doesn’t have to jump to get up there.  If she sleeps on the floor, consider buying her an orthopedic dog bed.  They distribute the dog’s weight evenly and reduce the pressure points on the dog’s joints.
Make it easy for her to get water.  Place several bowls of water around your home; particularly if you live in a large home so she doesn’t have to walk too far to get a drink.  If her arthritis is painful enough she’ll fore go the water her body needs to avoid the pain of walking. 
Speaking of water bowls, place her water and food bowls at her height so she doesn’t have to bend her neck to the ground to eat and drink.  This eliminates the stress on her back and neck muscles.
Keep her warm.  Just like people, dogs with arthritis feel the pain more in cold, damp climates.  Put a sweater or a jacket on her when she goes outside to reduce the chill on her joints.
If she’s having a very difficult time standing up, consider getting a lift for her. They are designed specifically for dogs so they are comfortable for her and easy for you to use.

If you have a breed that swims, swimming is an excellent exercise for her.  Just like people, dogs feel less pressure on their joints while exercising in water. However, if you have a breed that cannot swim – like a bulldog – or a dog that does not enjoy the water, do not put them in water…even with a life jacket. It will cause more stress for them than the benefit of the water.

Learn more about helping your arthritic dog.

No comments:

Post a Comment