Arthritis is a slowly progressive and degenerative bone disease that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. While there is no cure, pet owners can help their pets live a more comfortable and tail-wagging life. They can’t always tell us they are in pain, so watch for: slowing down, having difficulty lying down or getting up, limping or refusing to go up or down stairs.
- Anti-inflammatory and Pain Medication
There is a wide variety of very effective anti-inflammatory and pain medication available to help reduce your pet’s discomfort. It is best to discuss the risks and side effects of these medications with your veterinarian. Do not use human medication as it is toxic to pets.
- Supplements for Arthritis in Pets
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are the best: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2084&aid=670
- Omega-3 Fish Oil is a supplement that reduces inflammation. You can add a squirt or two of fish oil to your pet’s food…they love the taste too!
- Turmeric has natural anti-inflammatory properties. In pure powder form, a few pinches can be sprinkled onto your pet’s food.
- Soft Bed and Bedding –Consider getting a bed with more padding such as an Orthopedic Pet Bed.There are many styles and brands to choose from easily found online or at your local pet store.
- Heat – Colder temperatures can make an arthritic pet’s joints more stiff and painful. Safe heating pads should be set on low only. They can be placed under a towel or bed on their favorite places to lie down.
- Non-Slip Flooring – It is harder for an arthritic dog to get themselves up on slick surfaces such as wood, ceramic tile, or vinyl floors. You can remedy this by putting down throw rugs or bath mats in the places they frequent.
- Steps or Ramps – An arthritic pet will not be able to access higher places like your bed or car. This can be solved by providing steps or ramps specifically designed for dogs. If you are handy with carpentry, you can make your own steps.
- Dog Gates for Stairways –Because you cannot always monitor your pet, add dog gates wherever you have stairs in your home.
- Diets for Arthritic Pets: A diet low in “unhealthy” fat supplemented with Omega-3 is a good choice. Because obesity in pets can contribute to joint pain, it is important to make sure your pet’s diet accommodates a healthy weight. http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/best-dog-foods/suggested-low-fat-dog-food/)
- Acupuncture – Known to decrease inflammation and pain and improve range of motion.
- Exercise for Arthritic Pets: Exercise helps to increase blood circulation, keeps muscles strong to support joints, and helps overall sense of well-being. Exercise should be moderate, based on the severity of their condition and their limitations.
- Water Therapy/Swimming (yes, cats too!) is a great way to exercise your pets without stressing the joints.
- Walking or gentle running as far as is comfortable for your pet.
- Avoid throwing balls and long distance running with any dog that is exhibiting signs of arthritis.
Bottom line- Don’t despair if your beloved pet has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis – they can still live a happy, comfortable, and active life with your help!