Canine osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease (DJD), or simply arthritis – the progressive deterioration of the cartilage that surrounds the joints, causing joint inflammation. This affects the dog’s overall quality of life as this limits their mobility due to the pain that it causes.
There isn’t any cure for this diseases yet. However, there are medications, food supplements, and even treatments that can help ease your dog’s suffering. The following lifestyle changes may help too.
This is among the most essential elements in managing your dog’s arthritis. Visit your vet to discuss the needed amount and type of exercise that your dog is allowed to do as well as his dietary needs.
Keep an active lifestyle
Keeping the arthritic joints moving will help avoid stiffness and reduce the pain. Because your dog has lessened enthusiasm on walking and his stamina may have decreased too, it would be best to take multiple short, slow walks on a day to day basis. This will be more tolerable for him instead of having long daily walk.
If your dog would allow it, you may also try walking up and down the hills that are steep. This activity helps regain lost muscle mass in the limbs, resulting to an increase in your dog’s overall strength.
Use orthopedic dog bed
Because his joints are already sore and painful, having the typical flat or uneven bed may not be comfortable for your dog. Get him an orthopedic dog bed instead. They’re a bit more costly but are definitely worth the price.
Choose the one that has at least 4 inches thick orthopedic foam. Your dog must be able to stretch out on it so it must be large enough. Do not go for the elevated or nesting type beds. Getting in and out of it will be difficult for him.
Also, consider using heated bed during colder months. This will provide great comfort for your dog’s joints. Before purchasing, check out the reviews so you’d choose the one that best meets your dog’s needs.
Place mats or rugs on slippery surfaces
Because of lost muscle mass, your dog may become weak. This will make it difficult for him to grip on slick surfaces like hardwood and marble. Lay down rubber runner, rugs, or mats where he usually walks. This will give him his much needed footing and will make getting around safer and more comfortable.
On the stairs, place rubber treads or carpets. If your dog will tolerate it, make him wear special socks or booties.
If necessary, use ramps
Because big dogs can’t easily be lifted, use ramps. Having this in place wouldn’t make him have to jump on cars, decks, couches, and other areas with similar heights where he used to jump to.
There are a number of choices available in the market today. Choose the one with surface that has rubber or sandpaper-type traction.
Regularly trim his nails
Having long nails alone make it difficult for your dog to walk. If he has arthritis, long nails make it even harder for him to gain traction. If you can’t do it yourself, have your vet or pet groomer trim your dog’s nails for you.
Assist your dog
Your dog may require some assistance as the arthritis gets worse. Make a homemade sling using towel, blanket, or rolled up sheet and put it under his belly or chest area. This would be great for short-term use.
However, for long-term use, it would be best to purchase a harness that’s especially made for this purpose. These products are designed not to cause friction on your dog’s skin and also avoids fatigue on the owner’s hand. If your dog can no longer use his front or hind limbs, use a cart that’s especially designed for arthritic dogs.
Be patient and realistic
In this difficult time, ultimately, what your dog needs is your patience and support. The help and TLC that you can offer will surely make him happy and live a long comfortable life despite having this disease.
There are treatments that slow down the progression of arthritis. However, there’s no cure for this yet. In the long run, it can become so severe, causing him to be immobile. Sadly, there are times when you might have to consider having euthanasia.