As dog’s age, their physical strength and durability decline. Depending on the age, breed, weight and lifestyle of your dog, aging can also bring an increased risk of a condition known as osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease marked by a breakdown of cartilage in your dog’s joints. As this cartilage deteriorates, your dog may be more susceptible to cartilage tears, bone-on-bone grinding, and painful inflammation caused by small breakdowns in their joints.
While osteoarthritis does not currently offer a cure, dog owners have many different options to alleviate discomfort, slow the progression of this disease, and even support recovery while improving the quality of your dog’s life.
Signs of Osteoarthritis in Dogs
If your dog hasn’t been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, you may start to notice the symptoms developing gradually over time, and sometimes increasing as the severity of this condition worsens. Common signs of osteoarthritis include:
- Limping or difficulty standing and laying down.
- Stiffness when moving.
- A resistance to running and playing, or limited mobility when active.
- Visible pain or distress when petted or touched, especially around the (dog’s joints).
- Weight gain.
- Struggles to get into posture when going to the bathroom.
- An inability to make it outside before going to the bathroom.
What to Give Dogs for Arthritis
While arthritis can affect your dog’s quality of life, a number of treatments are available to alleviate the symptoms and discomfort of arthritis. Common medications and treatments for dog osteoarthritis include:
- Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs. These medications are one of the best ways to reduce (dog inflammation) in joints, which can also alleviate pain and discomfort for your dog. For long-term use, though, your vet will likely require blood work to make sure your dog’s body can handle this regular medication.
- Arthritis therapies. From cold laser treatments to acupuncture, your vet may recommend a few different treatment methods with a track record of alleviating arthritis discomfort.
- Adequan injections. While this treatment method is costly, it can support the body’s own healing and restorative processes and alleviate arthritis discomfort while also slowing its progression.
- Steroid injections. While steroids can have undesirable long-term health effects on your dog, the short-term benefits of a steroids shot—which can improve your dog’s arthritis for four to eight weeks—may outweigh these drawbacks, especially in older dogs.
- Pain medications. Tramadol and other medications may not improve the condition of your dog’s arthritis, but they can alleviate pain and improve your dog’s quality of life.
Before giving supplements to your dog, always check with your dog’s veterinarian to make sure the supplement is both safe and appropriate for your dog’s condition.
At Oklahoma Veterinary Specialists clinic, it is not uncommon for pets, especially dogs and cats, to undergo surgery for arthritis in certain cases. Our team of veterinary specialists carefully evaluates each pet’s condition and considers surgical interventions when conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy, and weight management have not provided sufficient relief for the arthritic symptoms. Our goal is to alleviate pain, improve joint function, and enhance the overall quality of life for pets facing arthritis. We always prioritize individualized care and work closely with pet owners to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for their beloved companions.
How to Strengthen an Old Dog’s Hind Legs
As your dog ages, weakening legs can contribute to the discomfort and limitations created by arthritis. While some weakening is a natural part of aging, you can help strengthen your dog’s legs—and maintain that strength—through simple lifestyle habits and by being careful not to overwork your dog and increase its risk of injury.
Regular walks, for example, are one of the best ways to strengthen your dog’s hind legs. These walks don’t have to be long, and you shouldn’t walk for so long that your dog becomes labored or even limping. A little exercise can go a long way. You can also massage the muscles in your dog’s hind legs to promote blood flow and recovery from these walks.
If your home has slippery indoor surfaces, such as wood or tile floors, your dog might also benefit from grippy shoes that aid in walking and maintaining traction on the floor. Better footing can sometimes promote hind length strength. At the very least, it will reduce the risk of injury.
Natural Arthritis Relief for Dogs
Natural (dog arthritis home remedies) can be leaned on as an alternative to medications and treatment, or they can be combined with other interventions to improve the possible treatment outcome for your dog.
Some of the most popular natural remedies for osteoarthritis include:
- Joint supplements. Natural supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can improve joint health in dogs as well as humans. Taken regularly, they may alleviate inflammation and promote healing and health in your dog’s joints, reducing the severity of osteoarthritis.
- Green-lipped mussel (GLM). This is another supplement that provides crucial nutrients to support joint health. GLM is a natural anti-inflammatory that may be particularly effective in treating and slowing early stages of arthritis.
- Joint massage. Specialized joint massage can be an effective (dog arthritis natural remedy) because it stimulates blood flow into the joints, which can promote natural healing.
- Weight loss. In dogs that are overweight and suffering the effects of arthritis, losing even a few pounds can reduce stress on these joints and alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.
For more information on treating and managing osteoarthritis in dogs, consult your local veterinarian.