It’s easy to tell that I am getting older because sometimes my body refuses to do what I want it to do. I know that when I get out of bed in the morning I have symptoms of stiff joints and I recognize that I probably have a bit of arthritis if not a lot! We don’t always recognize the same symptoms in our canine buddies and, so, many dogs suffer in silence with their owners being oblivious to the discomfort that they have. Studies have shown that canine arthritis can affect as many as one in five adult dogs.
My doctor described arthritis to me when I went to him for knee pain as an inflammation of the joint causing stiffness and pain which will worsen with age. Oh yay for me! He also told me there are many different types of arthritis. The two most common ones are rheumatoid arthritis (which is an autoimmune disease) or osteoarthritis which often occurs with age. I apparently have the latter.
Osteoarthritis or OA is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the cartilage between the bones thins out and dies over time. As those cells die, they release enzymes that cause inflammation and excessive joint fluid – in other words, the joints just wears out as you get older.
You may start to recognize things in your dog too – such as him no longer being able to jump up the stairs or onto the couch or perhaps he is struggling to get up from the floor. Since our dogs can’t talk to us, they often suffer in silence. Don’t panic because there are ways that you can help prevent or ease the pain your dog is feeling.
Although there is no cure, there are many healthy ways to help relieve or prevent stiff joints. The most common sign of arthritis in older dogs is a reluctance to move. So, if you notice your dog isn’t bouncing up and down stairs anymore or able to jump up onto his favorite spot on the couch, it’s probably time to start some preventative measures.
The first thing to address is your dog’s diet. Get rid of the processed canned and bagged dog foods and switch over to raw or home prepared meals instead. Introduce fresh vegetables (see my earlier post on the benefits of fruits and veggies at https://scoopapoop.com/benefits-fruits-vegetables-dog/ ). Feed some raw meaty bones and healthy cooked vegetables like cabbage and greens and carrots. Make sure to purée or lightly steamed them for digestibility. You should get rid of prescription meds, processed foods, breads and grains, and all milk products. Avoid processed kibble and canned foods. Supplement your dog’s digestive tract by giving him some dog probiotics. These are especially important if you’ve been feeding processed and bagged foods or if your dog’s been taking any pharmaceuticals like antibiotics. Probiotics add good bacteria to help balance his gut health. Avoid any chemicals or synthetic preservatives (which are often found in processed foods and kibble) in his diet. Make sure to address any injuries that you may suspect in your dog’s youth because oftentimes if an injury doesn’t heal thoroughly it appears as arthritis later on in the dog’s life.
With children back in school, and busy lives with work and family, getting regular exercise for you and your dog is vital to maintaining mobility. For young dogs two 45 minute walks a day and a 20 minute cardio session plus a run once a week is optimal. A slower street walk once or twice a week for older dogs, (starting slowly with 10 to 15 minutes of walking a day) and gradually increasing to 45 minutes to an hour walk 3-4 times per week is optimal. Swimming is great for older dogs because the exercise is a low impact activity.
There are several other natural approaches to arthritis for your dog. There are holistic and homeopathic treatments, acupuncture, whirlpool heat treatments and hydrotherapy, physical therapy and massage and of course regular exercise. Pay attention to your dogs feet. Nail and foot care with attention to overgrown nails – especially in older dogs is essential because overgrown nails can place abnormal stress on the joints of the feet which can cause even more pain in those joints.
Warm Comfy Beds
Be sure to provide your dog with a comfortable bed. There are many terrific beds available on the market these days with the most recent introduction into the market of memory foam beds for pets. You can add a heating pad for the wintertime to your dog’s bed to help keep his joints warm and comfortable. Make sure you purchase one that’s encased in waterproof plastic, has a chew proof cord and that the temperature does not go any higher than 102°. Be sure your dog can easily get on and off the bed so that if your dog begins to feel too warm he can move off and away from the heat.
My Final Thoughts
Remember there’s no one thing that’s guaranteed to work and each dog will respond differently so you may have to try out several different options to find out what will work best for your dog. Keep in mind there are many ways to help keep your dog comfortable and pain-free so that he can live a long and satisfying life by your side. Be prepared for some type of a cost in treating your dog’s arthritis because after all your dog depends on you for his happiness and health!
I would love to hear your comments, feedback, stories and ideas.
Scoops is a pooper scooper, dog waste clean up and pet waste clean up service located in central New Jersey – Check us out at www.ScoopaPoop.com/contact-us/