Dog Knee Arthritis: 5 Natural Solutions
How to Manage Arthritis in Senior Dogs
Senior dogs are prone to joint issues like arthritis. As they age, their joints undergo changes such as cartilage loss, thinning joint fluid, bone remodeling, and swelling. Your dog may experience chronic pain, lameness, and limb disuse due to arthritis. If your vet confirms your dog has this condition, you should try to manage the issue by adjusting your dog’s environment and by doing home care. You can also use professional treatments as well as medication to help your dog cope with arthritis.
Doing Home Care
Make sure your dog maintains a healthy weight.You do not want your dog to be overweight and have arthritis, as extra pounds can put more stress on their joints. Make sure your dog is at a healthy weight for their age and breed. Your vet can tell you if your dog is overweight and help you monitor your pet’s weight so they are healthy.
Apply a warm compress on problem areas.You should try to keep your pet warm, as the cold can irritate their arthritis. If your pet has any problem areas that tend to swell up due to arthritis, you can try putting warm compresses on the area. You can also allow your pet to sleep with a hot water bottle so they are comfortable at night.
- Another way to keep problem areas warm is to put your dog in a pet sweater. Make sure the sweater goes over your pet’s torso and limbs so they can stay warm.
Have your dog do non-weight bearing exercises.Being physically active is important for senior dogs, as it helps them maintain a healthy weight and healthy joints. If your dog has mild, early arthritis, try having them do non-weight bearing exercises like swimming. The water will help to support their limbs as they swim and splash around.
- You can also try getting your dog to go on at least one leash walk a day. These exercises are a little more weight bearing so you may want to consult with your vet before doing them with your pup to ensure they will not irritate their arthritis.
Support your dog in a sling.If the dog is struggling to walk or squat, you can assist them by making a sling. Slip a long wide piece of canvas, belt, or towel under your dog’s chest, and hold each end. Pull on the ends when your dog stands up to help them maintain their balance.This will take some weight off of the dog's back end so that they can walk more easily. You can also use the sling to help your dog climb the stairs and enter or exit the car.
- If you need a fast and easy sling, you can use a bath towel. Simply slide it under your dog’s chest and make sure the towel is long enough to support your dog when they move.
Adjusting Your Dog’s Environment
Create a warm, padded sleeping space for your dog.To ensure your dog stays warm, you should set up a padded sleeping space for the in an area that is free of drafts or cold air. You may get a firm, orthopedic bed for them that is dome shaped to help distribute their weight evenly and put less pressure on their joints. Set up their bed in a warm place in your home that is not near a window or a drafty area so they stay warm. Cold can irritate their arthritis.
- You may also make sure there are a lot of soft, padded spots for your dog to lounge and rest on in your home. Couches, ottomans, and soft carpet are all great for dogs with arthritis, as they help to support and cushion their joints.
Keep food and water bowls at a comfortable height.You do not want your pup to have to strain themselves to reach their food and water. Place their food and water bowls at a spot they can reach, such as on the ground by the door or on the lowest step of a set of stairs.
- If you live in a multi-level home, make sure there is a water bowl for your pet on every floor. This will reduce the amount of time they have to spend going up and down the stairs to get a drink.
- You should also make sure their food and water dishes are on a non-slip surface, such as a rubber mat. This will ensure your dog is not at risk of slipping or tripping when they eat.
Install ramps and barriers in your home.You should do your best to ensure your dog can move around easily in your home, even with their arthritis. Consider installing ramps in your home so your dog can go up stairs or access other areas of your home with ease. Make your own ramps from plywood covered in carpeting or buy ramps at your local pet store.
- Make sure the ramps are not too steep and that both ends are secure so your pet is not at risk of injury.
- You can also set up barriers in your home to prevent your dog from using the stairs. Sometimes, dogs do not know they are putting too much stress on their joints. Putting up barriers makes it clear they need to stay on one floor of the home and avoid climbing up and down stairwells to avoid irritating their arthritis.
Using Professional Treatments
Get massage therapy for your dog.Muscle massages are good for stimulating blood flow and reducing irritation in the joints. Your senior dog may benefit from a massage therapy session with a certified canine massage therapist. Look for a certified therapist in your area or ask your vet for recommendations.
- Many massage therapists can show you several techniques that you can do at home on your own when your senior dog’s arthritis flares up.
Consider acupuncture for your dog.Alternative medicine like acupuncture has been shown to help dogs feel more comfortable and less irritated by their arthritis. Acupuncture can also help your dog be more mobile despite their arthritis.
- Ask your vet to recommend a certified acupuncturist who works on dogs and other animals. You may also ask other pet owners who have dogs with arthritis if they have used an acupuncturist for their dog’s issue.
Try stem cell therapy.Stem cell therapy is an emerging treatment that is gaining popularity. While it is a more expensive option, it may be able to provide relief for your dog by relieving pain and inflammation. To perform stem cell therapy, the vet may extract cells from your dog's bone marrow or fatty tissue. They may also use cells from another dog. They will then inject these stem cells into the affected joints.
Talk to your vet about medications for arthritis.Never give your dog human medication for their arthritis, as this can lead to other health issues. Speak to your vet about medications you can give your dog for their arthritis. There are several anti-inflammatory medications that can be prescribed to dogs for their arthritis.
- Your vet should outline any side effects or health complications that may arise while your dog is on the medication. Keep your vet updated while your dog is on medication to ensure there are no issues.
Visit a veterinary physiotherapist.Veterinary physiotherapists can suggest different exercises to increase your dog's strength and mobility. They may also be able to provide different forms of treatment, such as laser treatments and hydrotherapy.
- You can ask your vet for a referral to a local physiotherapist.
Video: Dog Arthritis - How I saved an old dog with home treatment for canine osteoarthritis.
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