Arthritis is a painful condition that afflicts humans and pets of all types and ages. It’s not something that is annoying, like a cold, or something that will go away, like a bruise. Arthritis affects bones and joints on a daily basis and can cause anything from minor discomfort to crippling pain. This is difficult to deal with for your dog because he can’t tell you when he’s not feeling well, and many dogs are far too stoic to admit or succumb to pain. Lots of dogs continue with their daily routines, even when they are in pain so it is your job, as his owner and as his friend, to recognize the signs and symptoms of arthritis and to help alleviate his pain.
With early diagnosis and treatment, arthritis doesn’t have to be a daily reminder of pain for your dog. There are many signs that your buddy may be experiencing symptoms of arthritis:
- Does he limp or favor a leg or hip when he walks?
- Does he have a tough time when he sits down or stands up?
- Does he seem to spend more time laying down or sleeping?
- Do you notice him hesitate before doing things he always used to do, like jump or climb stairs?
- Has he put on weight?
- Does he seem less interested in doing activities he once loved, like jumping in the car or chasing ball?
- Does he seem less alert?
These are all symptoms of arthritis and if they last steadily for more than two weeks, it’s a good idea to take him to the veterinarian and explain what’s been happening. Your vet will likely give him an evaluation that includes a physical exam with blood work and maybe x-rays. The sooner you can get a diagnosis of arthritis and begin a treatment plan, the better it will be for your dog.
Treatments for Arthritis
If your exam results indicate arthritis, there are many things you can do to help your dog feel better. There are lots of homeopathic and pharmaceutical treatments that will help your dog’s mind, body, and spirit!
- Change of diet to maintain a healthy weight (especially for weight bearing joints like hips)
- Increased exercise for heart health and weight maintenance
- NSAID treatments which help inflammation of painful and swollen joints
- OTC joint supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin (which are extremely helpful)
- Accommodations for dogs who can’t climb into the car or on the bed (doggy stairs)
Arthritis is a common condition in humans and in dogs. If you experience it together, you can manage it more easily. Treat your dog as the companion he longs to be! Taking your medications and vitamins together will help you remember them. Cooking healthy meals and snacks will benefit both of you and exercising with each other will help you both to stay fit, shed extra pounds, and stay limber. These are all terrific ways to keep both you and your dog’s arthritis in check!