Has your dog started slowing down, sleeping in, or hesitating to jump onto the sofa for your nightly cuddle sesh? It’s possible that those years of bounding down the stairs or leaping into the air to catch a favorite ball have taken a toll on your best pal’s bones and joints. And, unfortunately, it’s not uncommon.
Arthritis is one of the most prevalent health conditions affecting dogs today. It’s estimated that one in five dogs, of all ages, already have some degree of arthritis and 90% of seniors do. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can help to relieve your dog's joint pain and restore their happy dance.
How to Ease Arthritis Pain in Dogs
There's no single, one-size-fits-all solution to canine arthritis and pain. First and foremost, you’ll want to work with your veterinarian to create a customized plan for your dog's individual needs and challenges.
Then, begin implementing these easy but important adaptations to your home and lifestyle to best support your dog’s health, mobility, and quality of life.
1. Help Your Dog Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight
One of the most important things you can do to relieve your dog’s joint and arthritis pain is to help themreach and maintain a healthy weight. Numerous studies have shown noticeable improvement in dogs’ mobility and an overall reduction in discomfort after losing weight.
If your dog is above their ideal weight, unnecessary stress is put on their joints, causing increased pain and reduced mobility as they age or exacerbating existing joint issues. Your veterinarian can help you identify your dog's ideal weight and recommend a weight loss and management plan.
2. Make It Easier For Your Dog to Keep Steady on Their Paws
Think of how difficult it is for you to walk on an icy sidewalk in winter or a slick floor while you’re wearing socks. The lack of traction not only causes anxiety, it forces you to adjust your gait, tense your muscles, and puts you at risk of injury. Dogs with arthritis and joint dysfunction struggle the same way simply walking across a slick wood or tile floor.
To make it easier on your dog to get around safely, try these tips to improve their traction:
- Place area rugs or runners strategically around the home to provide a non-slip surface that’ll make it easier for your dog to move about.
- Lay an anti-fatigue standing mat or even a thick yoga mat in front of food and water dishes and other areas where your dog tends to stand still for extended periods. The slightly padded surface can reduce fatigue on achy joints.
- Keep your dog’s nails clipped. When nails are allowed to grow long enough that they constantly touch the floor, each step your dog takes puts force on the nail bed, which then puts pressure on the toe joints. If these joints become compromised, the joints in their legs may realign to compensate which then puts pressure on other joints and muscles.
- Keep the fur on your dog’s paws trimmed. If you have a long-haired dog, it’s normal for hair to grow between toes and paw pads. Unfortunately, hair on the bottom of your dog’s paws can make it difficult for their paw pads to grip the floor beneath them.
- Use toe grips, traction pads, or anti-slip socks to provide grip and improve your dog’s confidence when navigating slick surfaces outside the home.
3. Take Preventive Measures Against Accidents and Injuries
As the saying goes, prevention is always better than a cure. Take some time to assess your home and, if necessary, make a few changes to prevent potential accidents and injuries from ever occurring.
- If your home has stairs, consider using a baby gate to block your dog’s access, especially when you’re away.
- Inspect your backyard periodically for holes, tree roots, divots, or other obstacles and trip hazards.
- Place an absorbent mat beneath water dishes to soak up any spills or slobber and prevent your dog slipping on wet floors.
4. Create Comfortable Rest Areas Around the House
As your dog gets older or if they’re in pain, they’ll spend more time sleeping each day. If they’ve developed joint pain or arthritis, it becomes more difficult for them to access the sofa or jump onto your bed for an afternoon nap. But, sleeping on the hard floor can put pressure on already achy joints. Provide comfortable rest areas by placing orthopedic beds in the rooms your dog spends the most time in. Not only will supportive beds provide a comfy place to rest pain-free, restful sleep is essential to healing, recovery, and overall mood.
As an added safety measure, use a grip pad or rug tape beneath dog beds to prevent them from slipping and sliding when your dog gets up.
5. UseSteps & Ramps to Prevent Joint Stress and Injuries
Pet steps and ramps are a wonderful solution to helping your dog get on and off the couch or bed, in and out of the car, or up and down porches and decks without the added stress that jumping and landing puts on their joints. Select steps or ramps designed to support your dog’s weight and made with non-slip surfaces that provide an added level of safety for your pup. Proving an easy, low-impact way for your dog to access their favorite places can reduce injury and wear and tear on their joints.
6. Provide a Supplement That Supports Healthy Joint Function
When picking a joint supplement for your arthritic dog, look for one that contains chondroprotectives (Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, and Hyaluronic Acid) that nourish, support, and build healthy joint tissue and reduce inflammation plus antioxidants (Vitamin C, Tart Cherry, Vitamin E) that inhibit free radical damage to cartilage.
Whether they’re young or old, big or small, floppy-eared, fuzzy-faced, full of energy, or prefer to snuggle, and advanced supplement likeWagWorthy Naturals Advanced Formula Hip + Joint supplement will slow the degeneration of cartilage, provide building blocks for healthy joint tissues, and naturally reduce irritation, pain, and discomfort-causing inflammation.
7. Allow Your Arthritic Dog to Enjoy Appropriate Exercise
It’s no secret that dogs need exercise for both physical and mental wellbeing. However, if they’re living with arthritis, you’ll need to provide appropriate or modified exercises to reduce stress to their joints and prevent further damage.
You’ll need to discuss what exercises are appropriate for your dog and their unique needs with your veterinarian. But, in general, dogs with arthritis or other musculoskeletal conditions should avoid playing fetch, Frisbee, or any similar repetitive activity that involves a lot of starting and stopping suddenly. They should also avoid strenuous activities such as running or agility in favor of more controlled exercises like leashed walking, swimming, or other low-impact exercises.
Another great way to keep your dog active is through brain-boosting exercises like scentwork, trick training, or puzzle feeders that can keep your dog both mentally sharp and physically engaged. Have you ever noticed your dog is still energetic after a walk but completely zonked after a short training session? That’s because just 10-15 minutes of mental stimulation, an activity that requires your dog to concentrate and problem-solve, is about as physically exhausting as a half hour of moderate exercise like walking or playing. So, if your dog has limited mobility but still needs to burn off excess energy, try exercising their brain!
Although seeing your dog getting older, slowing down or experiencing pain can be heartbreaking, an arthritis diagnosis doesn’t have to define your dog. Using your veterinarian’s clinical treatment plan, a high-qualitysupplement to support healthy joint function, and the tips above, your dog’s life can be defined by love, loyalty, and a lifetime of beautiful memories.
Remember, because of their tendency to hide discomfort, by the time it’s obvious that a dog is in pain significant joint damage may already be done. That’s why it’s important to take steps early to support a dog’s healthy joints and bones. Maintaining a healthy weight, providing appropriate exercise, and giving supplements that support healthy joint function are just as important throughout your dog’s life as they are when signs of pain and discomfort become apparent.