Similar to people, dogs can develop a variety of chronic medical conditions. Because most people view their dogs as members of their families, you probably want to do everything you can to help a dog who appears to be in pain. There are some situations where dogs can develop arthritis. If your dog has developed arthritis, you might be wondering what you can do to help him or her.
What is arthritis in dogs, and what does arthritis in dogs look like? Take a look at a few important points below.
What Is Arthritis in Dogs?
Arthritis is a chronic medical condition that leads to inflammation between the surfaces of the joints. In a joint, two or more bones come together to provide a greater degree of flexibility and range of motion. Cartilage is present in between bony surfaces of joints to reduce friction and pain. This cartilage creates a cushion that prevents two bony surfaces from open up against each other.
If your dog has arthritis, then he or she has inflammation between the surfaces of the joints. As a result, the cartilage begins to break down, leading to pain. Without cartilage present between bony surfaces, dogs can have difficulty moving without discomfort, adversely impacting their quality of life.
Therefore, it is important to address this issue as quickly as possible. The first step is identifying arthritis so that the treatment process can begin. How can you tell if your dog has arthritis?
Identifying Arthritis in Dogs
If you are wondering how to tell if dog has arthritis, there are several symptoms that might develop. These include:
- Problems Standing Up or Laying Down: If you notice that your dog is taking longer to stand up or lay down, then this could be a sign that he or she has arthritis.
- Difficulty Walking: Your dog should have plenty of flexibility in his or her legs when he or she runs from place to place. If you noticed that your dog is having a hard time walking, then he or she might have arthritis.
- Refusal to Bear Weight: If you notice that your dog is refusing to bear weight on one or more legs, then this could be a sign that your dog has arthritis. Pain could be present in this leg, causing your dog to refuse to put weight on that specific leg.
- Problems with Stairs: If your dog is refusing to go up and down stairs, this could be another sign that he or she is suffering from arthritis. Stairs can be difficult for dogs that have arthritis.
- Swelling in the Joints: You might also notice that your dog has developed swelling in his or her joints. Swelling is a common symptom of arthritis.
- Problems Jumping: If your dog is no longer able to jump up onto your furniture, then this could be a sign that he or she has developed arthritis. Jumping requires your dog to load up on his or her paws, which can be difficult if there is inflammation present.
Similar to other medical conditions, arthritis can present in many shapes and forms. Therefore, some dogs may present with all the above symptoms while other dogs may present with only one or two. Fortunately, there are multiple treatment options available.
How To Help a Dog with Arthritis.
If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis, you might be wondering how to help him or her. There are several treatment options you might want to consider for a dog with arthritis. A few examples include:
Take Your Dog on Regular Walks
First, you should take your dog on regular walks. You might be wondering, should you walk a dog with arthritis? The answer is yes. If your dog has arthritis, then he or she is experiencing a significant amount of stress in areas with inflammation. It is important to provide strength and support to those specific areas of the body. The only way to do this is by walking your dog.
If you are asking if it’s okay to walk a dog with arthritis, it is important to explore some of the benefits that your dog can receive
First, walking your dog regularly can strengthen his or her muscles. With extra muscular strength, other parts of the body will not have to work as hard, removing stress from vulnerable areas of the body. Second, this can also help your dog increase his or her flexibility. This can also be important for reducing the chances of injury and removing stress from impacted joints.
Finally, remember that exercise releases endorphins, which can make dogs feel better. Daily exercise is important because it can improve your dog’s mental health, which is a critical part of his or her overall quality of life.
Of course, you do need to monitor the overall health of your dog when you take him or her on walks. Remember that a dog that has arthritis might not be able to walk as far or as fast as dogs that do not have arthritis. Keep a close eye on your dog during the walk. The more you take them for a walk, the longer he or she should be able to go.
Consider Massage Therapy
You might also be wondering, does massage help dogs with arthritis? Yes, massage therapy can be helpful for dogs with arthritis. Because of the chronic inflammation present in his or her joints, your dog is going to have a lot of scar tissue present. It is important to break up this scar tissue if you would like your dog to feel better. One of the ways to do so is through massage therapy.
During massage therapy, you are going to alleviate pain present in the muscles around the affected joints. If you can make the muscles feel better, they should be able to provide better support to arthritic joints throughout the body. That way, your dog might be able to walk without pain for a short amount of time. Remember that you may have to give regular massages to maintain these benefits. Massage can increase your dog’s flexibility, improve circulation, and make it easier for your dog to relax.
During the massage, try to avoid putting direct pressure on your dog’s joints. This can be particularly painful. Try to focus on the south muscular tissue around the joints. If you have questions or concerns about giving your dog a massage, you may want to reach out to a professional pet massage therapist who can help.
Give Your Dog Heat Therapy
You might also be wondering, does heat help arthritis in dogs? This can also be an important treatment method for dogs who suffer from arthritis. He is a great way for you to reduce joint stiffness, discomfort, and muscle spasms. Furthermore, heat therapy can also improve blood flow in dogs who have been diagnosed with arthritis. If you can increase blood flow throughout your dog’s body, your dog’s cells will receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly.
You do need to be careful if you are giving your dog heat therapy. If you are using a heating pad that is meant for people, keep in mind that your dog may not be able to tolerate the same temperature settings. You should keep a close eye on your dog and try to avoid prolonged exposure. Otherwise, this could lead to burn injuries.
If you have questions about how to properly give your dog heat therapy, you may want to reach out to a veterinarian who can help you. There might even be specific products that have been created for heat therapy in dogs.
Weight Control is a Critical Part of Arthritis Management
If you would like to help your dog feel better, you also have to remove stress from arthritic joints. One of the ways to do that is to focus on weight control. If you can lessen the weight your dog’s joints have to support, they should feel better. Therefore, you should take a close look at your dog’s diet. Think carefully about the type of food you are giving him or her. You may want to switch to a diet that has more lean protein, which is important for building muscle tissue that can support your dog’s joints. You may also want to reduce carbohydrate and fat content to prevent your dog from developing weight issues.
Furthermore, there are two specific ingredients you may want to target to help your dog manage his or her joints. These are chondroitin and glucosamine. Both of these joint supplements are incredibly important for protecting your dog’s joints, particularly if he or she has been diagnosed with arthritis. If you are looking for a dog food that has the types of supplements, you may want to reach out to a pet dietitian for help. Then, combine this with a regular exercise routine to help your dog manage his or her weight.
Treat Arthritis in Dogs Holistically
These are just a few of the top ways you may be able to help a dog with arthritis. Arthritis is a chronic medical condition that can adversely impact the health of your dog’s joints. Even though it can be difficult to see your dog in pain, these treatment options should help you develop a customized treatment plan to help him or her. Remember that if you have any questions or concerns, you should reach out to a veterinarian professional who can help. That way, you can improve your dog’s overall quality of life.