When dogs get older various problems begin to develop, for example, arthritis in dogs is one of the most common reasons for leg pain and difficulties to move around.
Aging is a normal biological process that cannot be stopped, but we can help to make it easier.
Have you ever noticed your elder dog sleep through most of the day?
This is probably due to joint pain, discomfort, and overall energy loss when getting up, getting down, or walking.
This is probably the most common problem amongst senior dogs.
What’s arthritis, osteoarthritis in dogs and what are the symptoms?
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joint.
The body’s natural response to an injury or infection causes pain, swelling, redness, stiffness in the joints and connective tissues, raised temperature in the joint, and problems with movement.
Arthritis is common for older dogs, but arthritis can also develop for middle-aged dogs and sometimes even for younger dogs.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in dogs.
It is a chronic joint disease with degenerative changes, characterized by loss of articular cartilage, thickening of the joint capsule, and the formation of new bones around the joints, which causes pain and limb dysfunction.
Symptoms for arthritis in dogs:
- Stiffness (especially after rest or walking);
- The joints are enlarged or swollen;
- Reduced muscle volume;
- Difficulty jumping, getting in the car or climbing stairs;
- Walks become slower and shorter;
- The dog becomes quieter, begins to sleep more.
1. Which areas are most commonly affected by arthritis in dogs?
Arthritis in dogs usually affects the hips, knees, elbows, and shoulder joints.
2. How to determine if a dog has arthritis?
For older dogs, you will notice a change in activity.
With changes in the joints, the dog will no longer want to run and play for a long time period.
Typically, it is difficult to get up after sleeping, the dog’s walk is stiffer, the dog may wobble. Your pet may not want to climb up/down the stairs or jump on the couch, as he has done it before.
If you notice any of these signs, it is necessary to go to the veterinarian to examine the dog and perform an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis of arthritis.
3. What to do if a dog is diagnosed with arthritis?
To improve the dog’s well-being and slow down the further development of arthritis, your veterinarian will prescribe painkillers and supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin, and essential fatty acids.
These supplements protect the joints from further degeneration and can be given for a long time.
Omega-3 fatty acids will help reduce arthritis-induced inflammation in the joints.
4. What affects the grade of arthritis in dogs?
Dog’s weight and proper diet is an important factor in dogs overall health.
Obesity is just as common problem for humans today as it is for dogs.
Overweight – this is a weight on the joints. If your dog is already obese, don’t waste your time and start a low-calorie diet.
Of course, a proper diet is accompanied by physical activities – regular walks and games will reduce the development of arthritis in older age.
How to properly take care of older dogs?
From ancient times the dog has been faithfully serving man.
Every dog owner will definitely agree that dogs are truly their most trusted friends.
The dog allows us to feel needed and loved. The dog will be with us in any situation of life even when our friends might leave us our dog will always be faithful.
When our four-legged friends become older, this is the time when they need our support and love the most.
Some older dogs may have arthritis later in their years, but it’s better to prepare your dog for the aging process.
There are a few things you can do.
Physiotherapy and rehabilitation are two great things that can help with that.
One thing is that we can improve their health and strength, and the other thing is that while we’re doing these things we further strengthen the link with our dogs.
Physiotherapy in dogs with arthritis
The joy of life and movement in dogs depends on healthy joints, strong muscles, and a normally functioning nervous system.
Helping older dogs with PHYSICAL REHABILITATION:
- Reduce pain and discomfort;
- Prevent muscle atrophy;
- Increase strength and mobility;
- Strengthens the bond with your dog.
The massage will help you to reduce muscle tension and pain in your dog’s body.
Physiotherapy also helps with postoperative recovery and severe trauma. Or if you are planning an operation and you want your dog to get back on his legs as soon as possible, physiotherapy can help you to achieve that.
Why do the older dogs need special treatment?
When dogs get older their body’s ability to adapt to various internal and external irritants decreases and physiological disorders appear.
They aren’t as active as they used to be, they sleep more, avoid active playing and long walks, the ability to see, hear or orient has been greatly affected.
Thus dog loses muscle strength and physical endurance, joints deform and become stiff, and painful, neurological disorders start to appear. Obesity might also kick in, which adversely affects both the cardiovascular system and internal organ functions.
When the dog becomes a senior?
It depends on the dog’s breed, genetics, living conditions, physical activities, and overall health.
Bigger dog breeds age faster than small ones.
Big breeds – approximately from the age of 7.
Small breeds – approx., from the age of 10.
What is important for your senior dog?
- Regular, suitable physical activities, movement;
- Mental stimulation – playing, mind games, change your usual walking route, encourage, let him think;
- Healthy, quality food that is appropriate for his age and activities;
- Weight control;
- Regular vet visits.
How to help an older dog at home?
1. Provide your dog with stable and non-slippery surfaces
Slippery floors for dogs with arthritis can cause instability, and stairs can be a big challenge – making your home a difficult obstacle course.
You can make small changes to make it easier to move around and improve your dog’s daily routine.
Carpets, rubber mats, or yoga mats can be applied to slippery floors, such as laminate, tile, linoleum, or parquet floors.
The dog will feel more stable and safer on such surfaces.
Older dogs with weak muscles and incoordination may trip over carpets that form folds.
To reduce this risk, you can stick adhesive tapes under the corners of the carpet.
2. Provide your dog with a suitable bed
The sleeping area is important for older dogs.
By using a suitable orthopedic bed or a mattress made from “memory foam”, the dog’s body weight is balanced and no additional load is placed on the joints.
During winter, when the floors in the house are colder, it is recommended to set the bed in a warmer place.
A warm and soft bed will allow your dog to warm up faster even after a cold winter walk.
3. Help your older dog with arthritis to move around
Often the car, chair, or bed at home is too high up and dogs need to help to get into them.
The best way to help is to use ramps or steps that are available at pet stores. They can help the dog get into the car without pain.
Just make sure the ramp is not too slippery or steep.
To maintain the stability of the dog, remove the load from the joints and help the senior to get up comfortably.
- Harnesses with handles;
- Alternatively, a beach towel or scarf left under the chest can be used to help the dog to get up and move around.
For dogs with limited back leg activity – special wheelchairs.
They can be used to allow the weight to be transferred from the painful joints to the wheels.
You can also adapt these wheelchairs to each dog individually.
They can help to move around more easily.