As dog owner’s we make sure our companions receive their monthly heartworm pills, schedule regular veterinarian visits, and eat well. We look forward to the daily greeting when we come home as only a dog can give. You notice every little nuance about your dog, any change in regular behavior and it might be chalked up to a cold or they just eat something that did not agree with them, but it could be canine arthritis.
Arthritis does not distinguish between people and your pooch. Canine arthritis actually affects one in every five dogs in the U.S. and is one of the most common causes of pain in older dogs treated by Vets. The old adage of every one human year equals seven-dog years is fine for an average dog of say 45 lbs., but Great Danes for example reach their senior years at age 5 to 6 while a member of the Toy group will not reach senior age until in their teens.
Generally speaking, however, when your dog reaches seven years old you should consider them a senior citizen. There are some signs of dog health problems to look for to help recognize signs of aging and joint pain due to canine arthritis:
- Sleeping More
- Weight Gain
- Favoring a Limb
- Difficulty Standing and Sitting
- Being less alert
- Bumping into Things
- Become Startled when you approach from behind
- Hesitant to run, jump, or climb stairs
- Less interest in play or overall decrease in activity
- Change in attitude or behavior
Keep a watchful eye for these dog health problems, should your dog display any of these symptoms longer than two weeks then make an appointment with your vet for a senior seven examination and canine arthritis evaluation. The senior seven exam is a more in-depth blood panel than just a heartworm test provides and the arthritis evaluation will most likely include a physical exam and x-rays.
The most important thing you can do in treating canine arthritis is get a diagnosis and decide a course of treatment with your Veterinarian. Treatment for this dog health problem is not all that dissimilar to treating humans. There are some non-medication approaches for less severe cases of canine arthritis.
Take stock in your dog’s bed, buying an orthopedic dog bed or heated dog bed can ease tired and achy joints. There are also holistic medications such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin that can offer your dog arthritis pain relief. It is important to remember never to give your dog human medication even the holistic variety. There are different additives that can be toxic to dogs. Always talk to your Vet before giving your dog any medications.
Maintain a healthy diet by changing to a dog food with higher levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin as well as keep up a healthy weight through plenty of low impact exercise. Try to avoid vigorous play and activities on the weekends with little to no exercise during the week; a walk around the block a couple of times a day should do the trick. Swimming and hydrotherapy for canine arthritis are also great ways for your dog to experience low impact exercise and get plenty of exercise.
Try to make life for your dog as easy as you can. Investing in raised dog bowls will ease neck pain when the bend over to eat. Buying a folding dog ramp for your car will make it easier for him/her to go for a ride. Purchase dog stairs to help them climb into bed or on to their favorite spot without having to jump up or jump down.
Lastly, there are medications for canine arthritis treatment prescribed through your vet that offer your older dog arthritis pain relief. Rimadyl is the most popular medication. Although with some side effects, it will ease joint pain. Other drugs can accompany Rimadyl for the most severe cases of canine arthritis that can ease pain allowing dog owners a short-term option to euthanasia.
Canine arthritis and other chronic pain experienced by your dog can be controlled. For early detection of dog arthritis symptoms a change in diet and an orthopedic dog bed will most likely do the trick. Older dogs with more severe symptoms prescribed medications will ease joint pain but at the end of the day, we as pet owners must recognize our responsibility to provide a quality of life for our dogs.