When you have a four-legged best friend and companion, it’s important to help them stay happy and healthy as they age. Watching your dog age isn’t easy; they are no longer the young puppy you adopted, but now an old friend who needs a little more care and attention. As dogs reach their senior years or golden years, one of the most common ailments that can affect them is arthritis. If your dog has arthritis, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to help ease their discomfort and improve their quality of life.
Watching your dog age isn’t easy.
If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know that they live in a world of their own. They don’t seem to care what time it is or what’s going on around them. They just eat, sleep and play when they feel like it—which is why watching your dog age can be an emotional experience.
Your beloved companion may develop health issues such as arthritis as they get older, but there are things that you can do to help them live comfortably during this time.
There are many signs of aging in dogs—and if you pay attention to your furry friend’s changing behavior, you’ll see some of them happen sooner than expected:
Arthritis is common in dogs.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that can affect any dog at any age. While it’s most common in senior dogs, arthritis can occur at any time during a dog’s life. The most common type of arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the cartilage between bones wears down and causes inflammation around the joints. This can cause pain and stiffness that makes it difficult for your pet to move normally.
Arthritis is painful for dogs just as it is for humans, but dogs also have fewer ways to communicate how they’re feeling. Dogs often don’t show signs of pain until they’ve been suffering for years because they won’t let us see their discomfort or even understand what we’re asking them through our human emotions and facial expressions—and often don’t want us getting too close due to discomfort caused by our presence!
Know the causes of arthritis.
- Age: Arthritis is very common in older dogs.
- Injuries: Dogs with injuries to the joints are at higher risk of developing arthritis.
- Overweight: Being overweight can increase the pressure on your dog’s bones and joints, which can cause arthritis to develop or get worse.
- Genetics: Some breeds, such as German Shepherds, Boxers and Dachshunds are more likely than others to develop osteoarthritis. This condition is also hereditary in Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Bulldogs.
Know the signs of arthritis.
Arthritis can manifest itself in many ways, including:
- limping or stiffness
- difficulty getting up from a lying down position
- increased pain when moving around, particularly after prolonged periods of rest or in response to cold temperatures
Signs of arthritis may also include:
A lack of appetite and weight loss. If your dog is eating less than usual and losing weight, then this could be an indication that they are experiencing joint pain.
A change in behavior. Your dog might seem more irritable than usual, or they may even stop playing with their favorite toys entirely. They might become withdrawn and depressed as well.
Changes in sleep pattern. Arthritis can cause sleeping difficulties for dogs as well as humans—so if you notice that your dog seems to wake up earlier than usual, or stays awake longer at night time before falling back asleep again later on (especially if this happens during winter months), it could be due to arthritis pain keeping them up all night!
Provide your best friend with a comfortable bed and safe toys to enjoy.
A good dog bed can make a world of difference to your canine companion. There are many different types of beds available, but opt for one that is comfortable and soft, large enough for your dog to stretch out on, easy to clean, and safe if the dog tries to chew. Dog beds come with varying degrees of thickness, so consider whether you want something that will be more supportive for an older dog or prefer a thinner option for younger dogs who might still be growing.
If your furry friend has any special needs (such as arthritis), ensure there is ample room in the bed’s design for those issues before committing yourself or even purchasing it at all! The last thing you want is for Fido not being able to get comfortable because he’s too curled up due to joint pain from arthritis!
Another great way dogs can enjoy themselves without stressing their joints too much? Give them some good old-fashioned toys! You don’t need anything fancy here—just something fun and engaging will do just fine.
Doggy steps and ramps can help your dog walk up and down stairs or onto furniture.
If your dog has arthritis, it’s unlikely that they will be able to jump up onto things as easily as they used to. Doggy steps and ramps can help your dog walk up and down stairs or onto furniture. They can also help you when bringing your dog into a car or truck, or even an SUV or minivan.
Staying active can help reduce pain and stiffness, as well as keep your dog healthy.
While it’s true that some dogs are in less pain than others, it’s also true that staying active can help reduce pain and stiffness. The more you keep your dog moving, the better their overall health will be.
Exercise helps your dog’s muscles stay strong and flexible, which can make them feel better when they’re sore from arthritis. Exercise also increases their metabolism, which keeps them healthier overall—including keeping their joints healthy.
Regular exercise helps your dog sleep better at night so they may not feel as stiff when they wake up in the morning. Exercise also keeps their joints flexible so that if there is any swelling or inflammation due to arthritis, the joint will still have room for movement and won’t lock up on its own weight like a door knob does when it gets rusted from lack of use (or any metal part).
Massage therapy for dogs can help relax their muscles and improve blood flow, relieving stiff joints.
Massage therapy for dogs can help relax their muscles and improve blood flow, relieving stiff joints. Some massage techniques include:
- Muscle relaxation: Massaging the muscles of the spine, hips, shoulders and neck will reduce tension in these areas.
- Circulation: Stroking along with the natural curves in the body will keep your dog’s circulation flowing smoothly through his veins and arteries
- Range of motion: Massage helps increase range of motion by increasing flexibility while reducing pain associated with stiff joints or muscles that are held in one position for too long
Physical therapy for dogs includes a range of movement activities that can relieve discomfort from arthritis.
Physical therapy for dogs includes a range of movement activities that can relieve discomfort from arthritis. Physical therapy can reduce pain and stiffness, increase muscle strength, improve range of motion, promote coordination and balance, and help dogs regain confidence.
Physical therapy can be performed by your veterinarian or at an animal hospital or veterinary clinic. It often requires a set number of visits per week to see results.
Although there are many treatment options for canine arthritis, the best place to start is with a healthy lifestyle and supportive environment. You can change your dog’s diet and provide supplements to help reduce inflammation and keep joints strong. Keeping your dog active within safe limits can improve their health, as well as their mood.