How To Help Arthritic Dogs
Without a doubt, it’s hard to watch your dog age. The very tough part though comes when you realise that they have difficulty moving, playing or eating, and you need to know how to help your arthritic dog.
While some conditions he may encounter are treatable, there are also the ones you can’t do much about. Happily, there are many ways you can help arthritic dogs without having to completely remodel your house or change your lifestyle. This is why we came up with this guide to help you make the best decisions for your senior dog.
How To Help Your Arthritic Dog
1. Assure His Comfort
For an old dog, even the most simple actions can be painful. This is why you should always make sure that he is comfortable. You can do this by making sure his bed is always clean, his nails are cut, his hair doesn’t grow too long and he has access to the best food.
In general, it’s a good idea to install carpets on the stairs and floors he usually walks on, as it can be very hard for him to maintain his balance if he’s slipping.
Another very important thing you need to keep in mind is your dog’s weight. It’s not healthy for any dog to be overweight, but in the case of old, arthritic dogs, it can be dangerous. His joints are going to have problems supporting his normal body weight at this point, so it can be terrible for him to walk around with the extra weight. Our veterinarian recommends that if you have a senior dog with arthritis, you should closely monitor his weights and keep a weekly chart to show your veterinarian at the next check-up. Just as he can gain weight, he can also lose it, and the situation can be severe in both situations.
In our dog grooming guide, you can see how to trim your dog’s nails and have him comfortably walk around, as well as how often to wash him depending on the type of his coat. When it comes to washing your arthritic dog, try to either wash him outside if the temperature allows it, or install a kiddie pool in the bathroom. It will be very hard for both of you to get a big dog in the bathtub when he can barely move.
On the same note, make sure the temperature in your house is proper for him and he’s not too hot or too cold. In general, if you’re comfortable inside in casual clothes, he will be alright too.
Lastly, make sure he can rest as much as he needs. It’s important if you have kids to talk to them and explain that your dog is not feeling right and they should let him rest.
2. Install Ramps Or Stairs Where Needed
At this point, your dog will have difficulty jumping up or down, so you may need to either pick him up or install a set of pet steps or ramp if he’s too heavy.
If he’s used to sleeping on the couch, for example, he will do everything he can to continue sleeping there, but this may not be comfortable for him. And the same stands for car rides. You can keep a collapsible ramp in your trunk and help him get in whenever you need to go somewhere with him. Our veterinarian recommends that at this point, you should allow him to stay home with a pet sitter, as bumpy car rides won’t help in his situation. The only trips allowed are to the vet clinic.
3. Use A Special Harness
When your dog can no longer support his weight, it’s the time to get him a special harness. It will cover most of his torso and you can help him walk at all times. As some senior dogs will have difficulty walking anywhere, if you don’t help him, you risk having him soil his bedding and even his condition worsening due to the lack of exercise.
Another option is a dog wheelchair, made especially for him. The most common problem old dogs encounter is the impossibility of moving their hind legs, so this could be an option to help him freely move around. It will make him very happy knowing that despite his condition, he can move normally. A very important aspect you need to keep in mind is the fact that such a wheelchair should be made for your dog’s weight, size and condition. If it doesn’t properly fit, his condition will deteriorate.
4. Follow The Treatment Plan
It’s very possible that your veterinary will prescribe your pup quite a few medications. They can be to prevent blood clots or simple painkillers. It’s important to follow the treatment plan in order to have your dog feeling better.
Never, under any circumstances, give your dog human medicine of any kind. Some substances that are beneficial for us, such as Ibuprofen, are highly toxic for dogs, and they will worsen his whole situation.
It’s best if you keep close contact with your veterinarian, as he will know exactly what you should give your dog based on his condition.
5. Use complementary therapy
In some situations, veterinarians recommend complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage and water hydrotherapy. These are usually effective if your dog receives them on a regular basis, and in the first sessions, you may not notice any improvement.
What’s very important is to make sure that your dog’s therapist is certified and he knows exactly what and how he needs to do.
6. Give Him Vitamins And Minerals
There are many types of supplements available for dogs, and some vitamins and minerals can really have a good impact on your dog’s joints. Even if this is the case, make sure that your veterinarian approves the combination. Some vitamins are very beneficial if administered as they are, but won’t have any effects if combined with others. Iron and Magnesium, for example, should never be administered at the same time. The best situation though is when your dog takes all these vitamins and minerals from his diet.
7. Adjust His Diet
As dogs age, their activity and energy levels will drop, meaning that they will need nutritious meals containing a low calorie count. This will prevent him from gaining or losing weight but will still assure he gets all the nutrients he needs. Our veterinarian recommends you choose food that’s specially made for senior dogs, and if you have time, offer him homemade meals. Just make sure you don’t add any spices at all, and use dog-safe vegetables.
No matter what you do, always ask your veterinarian. He is the one who knows exactly how your senior dog should be treated, and he can safely recommend medical equipment and medicine. It’s always best if you know exactly how you can help your arthritic dog before his situation becomes severe.