9 Ways to Help an Arthritic Dog
#1 Slim down If your dog is overweight, commit to helping her slim down. Extra weight places extra strain on joints, worsening the pain of arthritis. Feeling guilty because your dog is looking longingly at her food bowl? Mix a little pumpkin (unsweetened, not canned) into her dinner; it’s healthy, low cal, and will help her feel full. We like both Fruitables' and Merrick's natural canned pumpkin for dogs.
#2 Gentle exercise Your dog absolutely still needs regular exercise—it is a must—to keep her moving and from stiffening up, just make sure it’s controlled, gentle, low impact, and short in duration. Try a dog treadmill, which allows for a slow walk at your dog’s desired pace (dogtread.com).
#4 Improved traction Arthritic dogs are less steady on their feet. Offer them stability with secure rugs for traction or a product like Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips, which puts an end to slipping, sliding, and struggling, by providing instant traction for slipping senior, arthritic, or special needs pets. Made of a natural nonslip material, they grip the floor, keeping your dog steady and upright. (toegrips.com)
#5 Canine massage Massage eases sore muscles, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress for both the giver and receiver. Plus, it’s a great for bonding and a wonderful way to check in with your older dog, enabling you to note any new lumps, bumps or sore places. For a canine massage how-to illustrating four techniques to help your dog rest, relax, and rejuvenate, go to moderndogmagazine.com/how-to-massage-your-dog.
#6 Acupuncture Yes, acupuncture. It’s not just for people. Veterinary acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s own pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances.
#7 Sweet heat Heating pads relieve aches. For a low-tech solution make your own DIY warmer in a jiffy; here’s how: fill a cotton tube sock or knee length sock with four cups of rice or whole corn (not popping corn!), then knot the end or tie it off with string or stitch it closed. Microwave it for a minute, and voilá, you’ve made your dog a heating pad! Or go high-tech for testimonial-backed results that go beyond soothing aches and pains. Canine Light Therapy pads use specific wavelengths of light for therapeutic and healing benefits including pain relief, muscle relaxation, stimulating acupuncture points, releasing trigger points, and healing injuries. (caninelighttherapy.com)
#8 A comfy, supportive bed Give your dog a comfortable, supportive bed to ease his weary bones. A well-padded resting spot goes a long way. Heated beds like those available through khpet.com can also ease aches and pains.
#9 Natural supplements We asked Dr. Loridawn Gordon, a naturopathic veterinarian, for how to help dogs with arthritis naturally. Here’s what she had to say:
“Natural options to treat arthritis in dogs include devil’s claw, a herbal remedy that's prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain. It's often used when pets are diagnosed with arthritis, but it shouldn't be given if your pet is diabetic. Mild cases of arthritis respond well to vitamins C and E, as well as dl-phenylalanine. If the case is severe, adding sodium oxide dismutase, also known as SOD, can do the trick. This is an antioxidant that provides anti-inflammatory properties.
If you want to take an Ayurvedic approach to treating your pet's arthritis, you can try Boswellia and Ashwaganda. Both are anti-inflammatory herbs that provide relief of stiffness and pain by shrinking inflamed tissues down and increasing the blood supply to these areas in order to promote healing. Ashwaganda also helps generate energy while counteracting the negative effects of stress on the body.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin are also popular natural remedies that support healthy joints by enhancing the cartilage between the joints. These supplements can help halt the degeneration of the cartilage and help the body rebuild it.
Pau D’Arco is an herbal remedy that's known for relieving the pain caused by arthritis, which can promote mobility if your pet is having trouble getting around.
Turmeric is another commonly prescribed herbal remedy for animals suffering with arthritis because it has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. It's also a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the liver and protects against myriad diseases.”
Be sure to check with your vet to see which supplements are suitable for your dog. Some natural remedies can react with medications your dog may be on.