Finding out your best friend has arthritis and is getting older and slower can be upsetting, but our friends at Bach Canine Rehab have kindly written some suggestions to help support your dog, and ensure they are kept as happy and comfortable as possible.
- Speak to your vet regarding suitable pain relief and any supplements that might help; there are lots of options out there so there is no need for your dog to be in pain or discomfort.
- For old, arthritic joints, movement can be very helpful, so don’t stop the walks unless advised to do so by your vet. However, a long walk followed by the rest of the day on the sofa is guaranteed to lead to stiffness! So short, regular walks are the best way to avoid this. Walking little and often keeps joints moving and lubricated and avoids them stiffening up, which can be painful. If the weather is nice, sit outside a café, or in a park with your dog, so that they can be outside socialising without clocking up the miles!
- Providing a suitable bed for your dog at home will help them to rest comfortably. An important thing to bear in mind when choosing a bed to support an arthritic dog is to find a balance between softness and support. If the bed is too firm, they may not find it comfortable however if it is too soft they may struggle to be able to get themselves up and out. Memory foam mattress style beds provide support without creating pressure points and are available in a range of styles and thicknesses. (Lots of options are available on the Internet or in your local pet store). Flat mattress style beds also allow your dog to rest lying flat without having to curl up or keep joints flexed which may not be comfortable.
- Unfortunately, playing with balls is very high impact exercise, so even if tennis balls are your dog’s favourite thing, avoiding this type of play will definitely help alleviate any flare ups of discomfort. Jumping in and out of the car, on and off the sofa, or running up and down stairs can produce high concussive forces on the joints, so try to avoid or provide support during these activities. For small dogs, lift them in these situations as much as possible – for larger dogs, consider a suitable harness, or even a car ramp, so that you can help support them without incurring your own injuries!
- Keeping your elderly dog nice and trim will also mean less weight on sore joints, and will make life much easier and more comfortable for them. If you are struggling with weight loss, ask your vet about it as many vet practices run weight loss clinics. Tails.com can provide a suitable diet tailored to your dog’s needs by taking into account their weight and condition, as well as issues with their joints, such as arthritis. Carefully controlled calories for weight loss or weight control will help keep your dog in good condition, and joint supplements glucosamine and chondroitin as well as essential fatty acids help with cartilage and joint support.
At Bach Canine Rehab we see many dogs with arthritis. Our treatment methods include both land-based physiotherapy and hydrotherapy in our bespoke canine pool or underwater treadmill. We find this combined treatment can give excellent results, and many owners report a very noticeable difference in their dog’s mobility within a few sessions. Speak to your vet about your local physiotherapy and hydrotherapy options, as you will need a referral anyway, and ensure any hydrotherapy practice you visit is fully insured and registered with either CHA (Canine Hydrotherapy Association) or NARCH (National Association of Registered Canine Hydrotherapists). Many pet insurance providers cover physiotherapy and hydrotherapy as part of their policies, so do check if you can claim. For more information, or for an informal chat about your dog and how we might be able to help, please see www.bachcaninerehab.co.uk.