Is your pet not as playful as they used to be? Are they having trouble moving and being active? These may be signs of arthritis. Arthritis is a painful condition that attacks the joints of your dogs and cats. While this is most common in elderly animals, there is a chance for your young companion to develop the condition as well.
There are two major forms of arthritis:
- A healthy immune system seeks out and destroys foreign invaders in the body to fight infections. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissues. This causes inflammation, primarily of the synovial membrane–a layer of connective tissue that lines the cavities of joints–resulting in tender and stiff joints. This inflammation may damage other parts of the body including eyes, skin, lungs, kidneys, and more. The painful swelling is known to come and go, however it will eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity over time.
- The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, is a degenerative joint disease (DJD) caused by the “wear and tear” of joints that develops as your pet gets older. As articular cartilage deteriorates through continued use, there is eventually nothing left to reduce friction between bones. The pain and soreness is caused when there is too little cartilage, and bone is left to rub against each other.
There is no cure for arthritis, but there are number of things that can be done to help pets suffering from the condition. These tips focus on dogs but can be applied to cats as well.
1. Health Supplements for Joint Support
Supplements that support joint health have become popular with dogs arthritis. They feature ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, EPA, DHA, and omega fatty acids which greatly assist in supporting the structure and function of joints. Each company has developed their own unique formula to give the only best for your pet.
These are a few of our favorites:
- Joint MAX Triple Strength is designed to target every aspect of joint health: lubrication, cushioning of tissues, and support of cartilage, connective tissues, and bones. This veterinarian recommended joint health supplement contains powerful active ingredients to support joints as well as antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress.
- Nutramaxx’s Cosequin is the #1 veterinarian recommended joint health supplement brand that combines glucosamine and chondroitin into a unique formula to help strengthen joints and increase cartilage production. While it is often given to older pets who are already struggling with weakened joints, you may also administer these supplements to younger animals to help extend their mobility throughout their lives.
- Synovi G4 soft chews are formulated with a synergistic blend of boswellia and turmeric, and also include glucosamine, MSM, creatine and a blend of antioxidants for joint and overall health support. These delicious soft chews are ideal for regular use to help improve your dog’s joint functions, flexibility and cartilage strength.
2. Comfortable Sleeping Conditions
Arthritis symptoms are worsened in cold, damp weather. Keeping your pet warm and dry will help ease the pain associated with DJD. A great way to do this is with a nice soft bed. Some beds help reflect your pet’s heat, further helping their joints stay warm.
- Orthopedic Dog Beds evenly distribute your pet’s weight to reduce pressure on their joints.
- Heated Dog Beds are essential for soothing joints and keeping your pet comfortable for a good night’s sleep.
- Sweaters help keep your pet and their joints warm throughout the day.
3. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
Although osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear of joints, being less active due to pain will actually make the joints stiffer and worsen your pet’s condition. That is why daily exercise is important to help with joint flexibility and muscle strength! These exercises should be low on intensity while providing a good range of motion.
Go For a Swim
Swimming is ideal for dogs suffering from arthritis! It offers a great amount of exercise with minimal strain on the joints.
- Premier Fido Floats provide comfort, safety and flotation for your dog in the water to allow them to freely paddle around.
- Petsport Firehose Flying Disk is a durable, floating flying disk toy that is ideal for playing fetch in the water!
- Paws Aboard PoolPup Steps make it easier and less straining for your pet to get in and out of the pool.
Fetch in short increments is great for a dog with arthritis. While it’s fun for the both of you, keep in mind that it is still very hard on their joints. If there is any sign of overexertion or joint stress, be sure to stop the activity immediately to prevent injury.
- Chuckit! Sport Medium Ball Launcher enhances your game of fetch by allowing more force to be added to each throw with less effort!
- Otis & Claude Ballistic Buddy Dog Toy – Bone is a durable fetch toy armed with a squeaker in a fun classic bone shape your dog will love.
- The KONG Ball is the most durable ball on the market! It’s long lasting durability combined with enhanced bouncing makes fetching more fun and exciting.
Visit the Dog Park
Go on a power walk or a short run at the dog park! If your dog is reluctant to move due to soreness, try to entice them with their favorite toy or treats to get them out of the house.
- GingerLead Dog Support & Rehabilitation Harness is designed to help dogs with weak hind legs walk. It can easily adjust to the height of the dog and owner to make walking easier and enjoyable for your weakened pup.
- PetSafe Easy Walk Harness is an easy fit and comfortable to wear for an enjoyable walk. The chest strap rests on the chest to prevent pressure on the delicate throat.
- If the dog park isn’t within walking distance, Solvit Telescoping Ramp Deluxe makes it easier for your dog to get in and out of the car while minimizing stress.
4. Manage Your Pet’s Weight with a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet to manage weight is important for a pet with arthritis. Extra weight will put additional stress on their joints, preventing proper exercise and adding to their pain. Keep in mind for certain foods that may increase inflammation such as grains, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Choosing a low grain food will not only prevent aggravation, but also assist in weight loss!
- Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food is grain-free and made with fresh, all natural ingredients. This dog food is moderate in protein and fat making it great for adult maintenance, senior dogs, and dogs that are on a weight loss diet.
- Orijen Dry Dog Food is a premium dog food that contains fresh, all natural ingredients designed to successfully replicate a healthy canine diet. Its low levels of carbohydrates can help you maintain your dog’s weight.
- Taste of the Wild Dry Dog Food is a grain-free formula for all life stages with sweet potatoes and peas to provide highly digestible energy for your dog. It is supplemented with fruits and vegetables to deliver natural antioxidants, protecting your friend’s body from the damage of everyday living and supporting overall good health.
For a healthy treat option, take a look at these low calorie bites:
- Joint Treats are healthy, all-natural pet treats that are low in calories with added glucosamine, creatine, MSM, EPA, DHA, manganese, zinc, and Vitamin C to keep joints healthy and dogs happy.
- Lil’ Bitz Treats are a tasty yet healthy and natural treat for your dog! They come in 3 different tasty flavors: Hickory Smoked Beef, Flame Roasted Chicken, and Salmon & Kelp. These grain-free treats are only 4 calories each!
- Lean Treats by Butler Nutrisentials are a healthy alternative to reward your pets. They are low fat treats made with real skinless chicken and come in chewy, bite-sized pieces for portion control.
5. Visit your Vet
While you may be giving your pet the most love and care that you possibly can, it is important to look to your veterinarian for professional advice and treatment before it becomes too painful. Your pet’s doctor will determine the severity of the arthritis through physical examination and tests. Once this is complete, a treatment plan can be made to suit the individual needs of your pet’s condition.
About the Author:
Leslie Le is a dedicated content writer for HealthyPets and Tiffany’s Breakfast. She is passionate about spreading information and awareness to help pet owners make the best choices in caring for their furry friends.