Helping Your Arthritic Dog
Watching your dog run and play is an enjoyable pastime for most dog lovers.
Unfortunately, arthritis is a common condition with dogs which makes most normal activities not possible. Your veterinarian will help determine the cause and the best overall treatment for your dog, but there are some simple steps you can take to help your dog feel better.
Be aware of your dog’s body language.
When you’re taking a walk with your dog, pay attention to when he starts getting tired. Most people walk their dogs around a given route, or for about the same amount of time, or about the same distance every day. Dogs get used to this routine. If you notice that your dog is stopping to rest often, or tries to turn back and go home before you’re ready, honor that. Your dog enjoys his outings as much, if not more, than you do: if he’s trying to go home early it’s because he doesn’t feel up to going on your normal walk.
If you have a fenced-in yard, your dog may prefer to just spend his outdoor time in the yard instead of joining on your morning power walk. If you have to walk him, consider taking more frequent, shorter walks with him. You may also need to slow your walk to a stroll. Do what you can to modify the routine so he’s comfortable for the whole walk.
Help him with stairs.
If stairs are hard for your dog to maneuver, try to limit the number of trips he makes. Chances are, he won’t go up and down with you every trip during the day if it hurts him. Try to get him to sleep on the ground floor so he can make his routine outdoor trips without having to do any more steps than necessary.
If your bedroom is upstairs and he insists on sleeping on the same floor, put his bed upstairs and put an extra water bowl for him upstairs, too. Let him out right before you head up for the night so he doesn’t need to make that extra trip. If he’s small enough, try carrying him up and down the stairs.
You might want to consider getting at least one extra dog bed or pillow so your dog can have a soft place to lie down anywhere he spends a lot of time.
Help him getting in the car.
If your dog has trouble jumping into the car, you can hoist him up or get a ramp or portable dog steps to help him climb in the car. Try to limit his car rides if this presents a problem for him, but making this small investment will help you when you have to take him to the veterinarian or to get groomed.
Watch his weight.
It always a good idea to keep your dog at a healthy weight, but this is even more important in arthritic dogs. Carrying even a few pounds of extra weight can cause him more discomfort.
Keep him warm.
Cold weather can aggravate the symptoms of arthritis. Keep an eye on him when he’s outdoors on cold days. Even if your dog used to shrug off the cold weather, his arthritis might make him less resilient. If you see him shivering, moving slower, or you have any other indication the cold is bothering him more now, you might want to get him a dog sweater or coat. Even if the coat doesn’t cover the joints that are bothering him, being warmer may help him feel more comfortable overall.
Be sure to consult your veterinarian if you see signs of soreness, stiffness, or swelling around the joints. They can let your know if there’s anything that might improve your dog’s situation, and/or the best way to treat your dog’s symptoms.
These ideas won’t take the place of your veterinarian’s treatment plan, but if you incorporate these steps into your dog’s daily life, you can keep your dog as comfortable as possible as he deals with the chronic pain of arthritis.