Arthritis affects 4 out of every 5 senior dogs. So chances are if you have a senior dog they have arthritis whether you know it or not. There are lots of things that can be done to help your arthritic dog beyond rest and pain medications. Many are very simple! Here’s a short list of 5 things you can do:
1. Maintain a healthy weight – Extra pounds on a dog increase the load through the joints. This can exacerbate pain and can be especially difficult on a dog who might already be weak. Aim to achieve or maintain a body condition score of 4-5 out of 9. If you are familiar with the body condition score check it out here. If your dog is carrying extra pounds aim to slowly make changes to your dog’s diet and exercise routine to start to shed the extra pounds.
|| Maggie at 78lbs!
|| Maggie at 63 lbs
2. Joint supplements – joint supplements can help to provide vital nutrition to joints. Joint supplements can often take 2-4 months to make a noticeable difference so the sooner you start these with your dog the better. There are A LOT of joint supplements out there for dogs. Ingredients that have scientific proof for their effectiveness are glucosamine, polyunsaturated fatty acids/fish oil, chondroitin sulfate or green lipped mussel. Use the ACCLAIM method when selecting a joint supplement:
A = A name you recognize.
C = Clinical experience. A company who participates in clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy of a product.
C = Contents. All ingredients and amounts should be clearly stated on the label.
L = Label claims. If they sound too good to be true, they probably are. Claims of “curing” or “preventing” should be treated as suspect.
A = Administration recommendations. The dosage should be easy to calculate for the size of your dog.
I = Identification of lot number. This indicates that there is a quality control method and allows for recall of a product if needed.
M = Manufacturer information. You should be able to easily identify where the product was made and by whom.
3. Keep moving! But don’t overdo it. A dog with arthritis needs to maintain the strength and a healthy body weight and exercise is an excellent prescription just for that! Be careful about avoiding sudden increases in the amount or intensity of exercise your dog is doing as this can lead to a flare-up of pain! Strengthening exercises are also very beneficial for dogs with arthritis. Consider working with a canine rehab professional that can design a program specific for your dogs needs!
4. Trim nails. Keeping a dog’s nails short is the canine equivalent to walking in running shoes. If a dog’s nails are too long their posture with be changed and it is hard for them to get their weight over their feet. Dogs with long nails tend to shift their weight backwards. We wrote an entire blog about dog nails you can look at here.
5. Get a grip. Senior dogs can have a hard time maintaining their balance and slips can more easily cause injuries and flare-up painful, arthritic joints. You can give your dog an advantage by putting down carpet runners on slippery floors. You don’t have to cover all of your floors – try to target high traffic areas and places where your dog is changing direction. Don’t forget to give them something non-slip to stand on at their food and water bowls.
An alternative to updating your flooring would be to use a booty to give your dog some grip or nail grips like Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips.