How to cope with doggie arthritis

Dog on steps

Maybe your pooch isn’t bounding up and down the stairs and tearing around the backyard like he or she used to. They could be suffering from arthritis, which affects over 20% of dogs over one year old in America. If so, there are numerous ways you can make your dog more comfortable even after their diagnosis.

If your dog is struggling with the stairs, you can buy a portable ramp or block the staircase off with a stair gate. If your dog is small enough, carrying them up and down steps may be the best option. Elsewhere in the house, lay carpets, mats, or throw rugs on slippery floors where your dog frequently travels, like the laminate or tile flooring in a kitchen.

Give the dog a mat to stand on in front of their food and water bowls, and provide them with shallow bowls so they don’t have to bend over too far to eat. For taller dogs, raise up their food and water bowls with a stand or a shelf. Lay a towel below the water bowl so the floor does not get slippery.

Yellow lab with food bowl

You will want to keep your dog on a healthy diet so they can keep their weight down. The more weight they carry, the more pressure placed on their already achy joints. Though a dog with arthritis will not be as active because of the discomfort, it is still important that they continue to get exercise.

Work with your veterinarian to develop an exercise plan that can be done regularly and does not overstrain your dog. Their walks should be short and slow. Let your dog set a comfortable pace. As you walk, keep a close eye on them. If they are lagging behind or if you suspect that they are in pain, it is best to truncate your walk.

Keep the hallways and paths they use clean of clutter so they don’t have to manipulate their bodies to avoid any messes. When you take them outside to play or use the bathroom, grass is an easier surface for them to be on than pavement and other hard surfaces. If you have to travel with your dog in the car, lift them in if you can or use a portable ramp or shallow dog steps. Once they are inside the car, secure them in a snug position so they will not be jostled around on the ride.

You will want to have places for your dog at home where he or she can relax comfortably. Their dog bed should be well padded as well as easy to get in and out of. It should also be large enough where your dog can shift their position without much effort. If your dog sleeps in bed with you, you can either lift them into bed or buy a ramp or dog steps for them to get in and out easier.

Dog sleeping in bed

If your dog sleeps near the edge of the bed, you can either position your bed against the wall or use a bed rail to keep them from falling out. Additionally, to physical comfort, you will also want to keep your dog warm and dry, as both temperature and the weather can flare up arthritic pain in dogs the same as it does in humans.

It is also important to listen to your veterinarian, so you best know how to manage your dog’s care. Take them to their check-up appointments, give them any medication they are prescribed at the regular intervals and doses, and keep a close eye to make sure that the medicine is not having any negative side effects or the arthritis is not worsening.

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