What Every Dog Owner Should Know About Arthritis

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Contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes

dog with arthritis

Photo by Jan Szwagrzyk on Unsplash

Many of us are familiar with arthritis, especially those of us who are getting older. Arthritis is an all-too-common problem for humans, but what about when it comes to our furry friends? As it turns out, as many as one in five dogs have arthritis within the course of their lifetime. Luckily, most dogs who are diagnosed with arthritis are still able to live a healthy and active lifestyle–they just need us to lend a helping hand.

Recognizing the Signs of Arthritis

The signs of arthritis can be hard to spot, even if you’re familiar with your dog’s unique mannerisms. It may be something as subtle as joint stiffness in the morning. If allowed to progress, however, you’ll eventually notice your pup having trouble sitting, laying down, and walking around. Some dogs may even become depressed and change their eating habits.

The only way to know for sure if your pet is experiencing arthritis is by booking an appointment with your vet. By looking at blood tests, X-rays, physical exams, and medical history, your vet should be able to determine the cause of your dog’s joint pain. If it is arthritis, you should also be able to find out whether it’s osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, or immune-mediated polyarthritis.

Making Life Easier for Your Four-Legged Friend

Arthritis can make it difficult for your dog to get around the house. They won’t be able to climb stairs as easily or jump up onto their favorite piece of furniture. Of course, there are plenty of ways that you can modify your home and make things a little bit easier for your pooch. 

  • Keep food and water at a comfortable height instead of on the floor.
  •  Build ramps upstairs and to climb on communal furniture.
  •  Put no-slip paint or runners on slippery surfaces such as tile and hardwood.
  • Provide your dog with a heating pad or hot water bottle in bed to help ease discomfort.
  •  Use a sling to help your pup climb stairs, enter the car, or get into a carrier.

Treating Arthritis in Dogs

After a diagnosis is made, your vet can recommend treatment options that may help your pet. Steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs help to decrease swelling and discomfort around the joints, while dietary supplements strengthen bone and muscle. There are also surgical options that reconstruct damaged joints.

If your furry friend has been diagnosed with arthritis, don’t worry. With your help, your pet can continue to lead an active and fulfilling lifestyle. There are modifications you can make to your home and medical treatments that you can try to give your best friend a better quality of living.

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