As our pets grow older, it’s our duty as their caretakers to ensure they are as comfortable as possible during their twilight years. One of the most common problems animal guardians face is how to appropriately deal with arthritis.
Arthritis is defined as a medical condition where the joints become unstable causing the bones to move abnormally within the joint. What this means is that the cartilage that lines bones eventually wears away so the bone is going up against bone. Although arthritis is common as dog’s age, it can cause chronic pain and negatively affect their quality of life.
For any animal guardian with a middle-aged to a senior dog, it’s important to know not only how to deal with arthritis but to first recognize the signs of the condition so you can act accordingly.
1. Does your cat or dog limp? This is usually the first sign of arthritis in animals.
2. Does your cat or dog have a healthy level of play? It’s usual for animals as they age to slow down and not play for as long as they used to (and/or need more naps during the day), but you’ll want to keep an eye on their mobility.
3. Does your feline go to the bathroom outside of the litter box? It may be because it’s too painful for them to jump into the litter box.
So, if you’ve noticed one or two signs of arthritis, what to do you do? Here are some tips on how to help your BFF.
To help your dog or cat get up into bed, sofa or car, there are many pet stairs or ramps that can easily be incorporated. You can find a variety of pet stairs and ramps at your local pet store, but for the eco-conscious consumer, you could even make your own.
It’s also important to make sure your pet has comfy, supportive bedding for when they are sleeping or relaxing. If you have hard surfaces in your home, try putting down carpeting (or rugs) so that way your pet will have traction beneath them.
Glucosamine supplements come in both pill and liquid form and are used to help improve joint mobility. Glucosamine is a perfect way to manage joint pain naturally. What exactly is glucosamine? Glucosamine is naturally produced to help form cartilage but as your pet ages, the body produces less glucosamine, meaning the animal’s joints can stiffen. You can find supplements at your local pet store (make sure to look for one that is synthetically made, not from shellfish or other animal sources), and talking with your veterinarian for recommendations is a good idea, too.
If your pet has a few extra pounds, consider a putting them on a diet. It’s important for your cat and dog to maintain a healthy weight because the more weight they have on their joints, the harder it’s going to be for them to get around. Simple tips such as offering carrots instead of treats can help cut back on high calories and your veterinarian can offer a specific weight-loss plan for your cat or dog. For more tips on how to keep your companions healthy, check this out.
Acupuncture has long been helping humans deal with arthritis and other ailments for thousands of years, but the alternative medicine can also be used on animals. Another option is to look into an animal massage therapist, who can help increase your pet’s circulation and improve their physical well-being.
The therapist may also be able to recommend hydrotherapy (water therapy) in your area, a great way to help aging dogs. Hydrotherapy has gained popularity in recent years in helping dogs with joint pain, as well as animals recovering from surgery. Because of the resistance and buoyancy water provides, hydrotherapy could help make your dog much more comfortable in their senior years!
If you are unsure where to start first, consult with your veterinarian on what the best course of action is for your pet. They can help implement a weight-loss plan, recommend dog therapists in your area, as well as share other tips and tricks!
Photo source: Flickr
source: One Green Planet
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