Your dog has reached what in human years translates as seniority. She or he may have some difficulty jumping off the car or may wake up stiff in the morning. While this may be bothersome to some owners used to see their dog romping around all day, the good news is that if you take care of your dog arthritis swiftly your dog has still good chances of preventing the initial stages of arthritis from progressing. It is vital therefore, to have your geriatric dog seen at the first signs of lameness. This will help your veterinarian rule out other more serious conditions such as Lyme disease, valley fever or bone cancer.
A diagnosis of dog arthritis comes after a physical examination followed by x-rays. Large dog breeds usually after 7 years of age seem the most to be affected, however dog arthritis may affect just about any dog breed.
Once diagnosed with dog arthritis your vet may prescribe to your dog some anti-inflammatory drugs often also known as NSAIDS (non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory drugs). Common medications prescribed are : Rimadyl, Previcox, Etogesic and Deramaxx. Some sources also recommend the use of tramadol. However, make sure to discuss side effects well with your vet as Rimadyl and Previcox have been known to have created major health problems in some dogs. Below you will see some alternatives to NSAID. Also, make sure to check out dog home remedies for arthritis and helpful products.
NSAID Alternative Therapies
Also known as Glyco-Flex or Cosequin, this is not really a medication but rather a supplement. When dogs are affected by degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis their joints lack good quality joint fluid and cushioning which consequently brings to bone degeneration. Glucosamine derives from the mussel Perna canaliculus (hence, the fishy odor of the tablets) and it helps lubricate the joints once again. Always inquire with your vet about putting your dog on any supplements, not consulting with your vet may cause a delay in getting better or even a worsening of symptoms since your dog may be suffering from other serious disorders not related to dog arthritis.
There are rave reviews for Duralactin for dogs, and even some interesting studies showing its effectiveness. Duralactin is a supplement made of milk that has showed to show improvement in about 4 to 7 days. It works for dogs suffering from the inflammation derived from dog degenerative joint disease, arthritis and spinal nerve injuries.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids for dog arthritis are commercially available under the form of fish oil derived from fish such as salmon, menhaden and krill. Omega 3 fatty acids help dogs suffering from inflammatory states as allergies and arthritis.
What you can do at home
- Keep your dog lean
The leaner your dog, the less strain is put on the joints. Try to not over feed your dog especially if he does not get sufficient exercise. If your pet is obese consult with your vet on how to reduce weight and perhaps put the dog on a weight loss program. There are many dog foods available today by prescription that will help reduce weight.
- Invest in ramps
If you dog has difficulty getting around, there are special ramps that may help your beloved dog climb up to the bed again or climb up those painful stairs. These ramps can also make it easier for your dog to climb up and down a vehicle.
- Prescription diets
Hill’s produces a prescription diet called J/D (joint diet) made on purpose for dogs suffering for arthritis. Because it is a prescription diet your dog would need to be evaluated in order to have it prescribed. There are many testimonials of owners that have witnessed great benefits once on this special diet.
- Offer comfort
Allow your dog to sleep on a comfortable dog bed so to minimize the typical morning stiffness. If your dog sleeps on the floor give him/her a nice comfy bed so that he /she will waken up with less stiffness in the mornings. Mornings are critical for people and pets suffering for arthritis so it is best to minimize the pain and discomfort by providing something soft to sleep on.
It may sound odd but exercise can actually help your arthritic dog, of course the exercise need not to be strenuous, rather allow moderate exercise. A good level of exercise will allow muscles and ligaments to get stronger supporting better those painful joints.
- Slip free areas
We used to see these poor dogs at our vet’s office. They were laying on the floor and had difficulty getting up and were slipping here and there. You could almost feel their pain. If you toss a few rugs on your tiled or wooded floor areas your dog will very likely use them. If your dog is having trouble getting up and walking due to hip problems place a towel under the abdomen and grab the two ends. Gently pull upwards the ends so to reduce strain on the hips by lifting your dog slightly up.
There are many over the counter supplements that can help dogs suffering from arthritis. Helpful herbs and natural products include turmeric, bromelein, yucca and Reishi Mushrooms to just name a few. Omega 3 fatty acids, Duralactin, glucosamine and chondroitin are known for helping inflammatory states as seen in arthritis.
An arthritic dog is not like a rusty car soon to be demolished. Rather many arthritic dogs lead healthy lives again thanks to many veterinary advances and tips you can easily follow at home. Some people have witnessed a return to the rambunctious puppy attitude in their senior dogs after following some therapies listed above. Hopefully the above tips may help your dog get better as well and gain back a couple of years off his back and off his joints!
For Further Reading: Aspirin for dogs
*Disclaimer All remedies suggested are not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your pet is sick please refer to your veterinarian for a hands on examination. If your pet is exhibiting behavior problems please refer to a professional pet behaviorist.