Dealing with Arthritis
As a senior dog parent, I am sure you have already seen your pooch slow down due to arthritis. Just like humans, it is a natural part of the aging process. Many different types of treatments and supplements exist that aid in easing the discomfort of arthritis in senior dogs. Well quickly runs through some of the tried and true remedies and I would love to hear about what methods are working for your senior pooch.
Weight Control: Sometimes we love on our pooches so much they get a bit chunky. Keeping your dog as close to an ideal weight, relieves pressure on the joints which in-turn reduces pain.
Shorter Walks: Sadly the long walks that you and your dog are used to taking together may be aggravating his/her osteoarthritis. When Otto's arthritis started to rear its ugly head, we were advised to go on shorter, more frequent walks. There isn't a hard and fast rule to use of how much shorter the walk should be. The rue of thumb we were given was the walk should be short enough that he never showed signs of walking in pain but long enough to give him exercise. That meant for us some days walks were really short. We started with cutting the walks in half and adjusted from there.
Staying warm: Staying warm and lose especially through the winter months helps keep discomfort at bay. Some of these tactics are as simple as putting a sweater or coat on your dog. Depending on your dog it may be only necessary to keep them warm on walks or it may mean all day.
Heated beds are also great to keep. They are much safer than heating pads as they typically do not heat up enough to overheat your dog or accidentally burn. K&H makes a great heated bed that I have used to keep Otto warm and nimble.
Supplements: Typically used as the first step. Adding products like glucosamine can help keep the joints nimble and is believed to reduce minor pain from osteoarthritis. There is a wide range of glucosamine available from over the counter to prescription versions.
CBD has become very popular in treating multiple ailments in dogs and humans alike. It is believed stated that the CBD oil triggers nerve receptors to reduce discomfort and inflammation. Similar to other supplements, CBD/hemp oil does not cure arthritis.
Massage Therapy: There are some really easy massage movements you can do at home to help keep your dog's joints loose. Typically, massage therapy is done in conjunction with one or more of the treatments outlined in this article. Lots of great YouTube articles are out there to demonstrate the different types. I used a basic mobility movement. It starts out with using either the heated bed or a bed buddy heat pack to warm up the muscles. Our therapist would try to heat up the muscles for 8 minutes or for how long as Otto would sit still, which ever came first. After he was heated we would do circular leg movements that were natural to him walking. About 10 per leg or whatever he would tolerate. Make sure to keep the movement of the leg as natural as possible and to ensure you aren't stretching your dog out too much to the point of being in extreme pain.
Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy is more popular for rehabilitation of an injury but can be used to exercise a dog with limited stress on joints. The hydrotherapy allows for the dog to become stronger and more fit which in-turn should alleviate some of the pain associated with arthritis. This treatment can be costly.
Cold Laser Therapy: From my experience cold laser therapy made the biggest impact to Otto's mobility. It is referred to as "cold" because the it is a low level of treatment. The laser is placed over the joints that are causing the most amount of discomfort. The cold laser will immediately reduce inflammation and eliminate pain or discomfort. It also has the ability to heal other types of muscular injuries (unsure about osteoarthritis) by increasing blood flow to the area.
This treatment is a "forever" treatment and can be costly.
Whatever treatment you and your vet decide to start with will help your pooch become more comfortable and bring him/her back to their playful self.
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