Roughly 1/4 to almost 1/3 of family dogs struggle with canine arthritis with symptoms just as unbearable to dogs as those experienced by humans (see "Additional Resources," below). When you first notice your dog suffering from joint pain, it can be almost as emotionally painful to you as the owner as it is physically for the dog. It's important to seek a professional diagnosis from a vet, and to get medical treatment immediately rather than ignore the problem, hoping it will go away.
Be aware of the basic symptoms of joint inflammation. Besides the obvious sign of limping, reluctance in walking and climbing stairs as well as not wanting to jump and play are other common symptoms. Struggling to arise from a resting position is a clue, in addition to lagging behind on walks when he used to charge ahead of you. If your dog becomes resistant to touch or yelps, it could be due to joint pain.
Include essential vitamins and minerals in your dog's diet, along with amino acids, high-quality fish oil and other vital nutrients that are necessary for proper bone and muscle strength. Feed with high-quality dog food that doesn't contain fatty fillers. Limit foods that intensify joint inflammation including snacks. Choose only healthy treats over those high-calorie ones, usually bought in stores other than pet supply shops. It's imperative your dog doesn't have extra weight that can cause stress on joints and even more pain.
Regularly exercise your dog as this improves strength and mobility, reducing joint pain. If your dog isn't used to exercising, begin easy by doing only about five minutes of gentle exercising such as walking daily. Then bump up the time to 20 minutes twice daily. Limit exercises to only low-impact activities. Swimming is ideal for painful joints as the water supports the body, relieving the strain from inflamed joints. Begin by letting your dog swim for about 10 minutes, then gradually add more time. Although most dogs can swim, there are some breeds such as bassets that can't swim because of their short legs.
You can massage the muscles surrounding the hip joint to relieve spasms and pain. With gentle circular motions with your fingers, massage for about 10 minutes. Reduce pressure if you notice your dog showing signs of pain.
Provide soft bedding that's easy on your dog's joints. Ensure the area where he walks has soft carpeting, keeping him off hard, slick floors where there are greater odds for falling. If possible, install a ramp on a porch with steps to ease the pain of coming in and out of the house.
Drugs and Medications
Various drugs are available to improve joint pain, but they usually don't produce results for weeks or months. Called "nutriceuticals," they're nutritional supplements with medicinal properties. A popular painkiller is Rimadyl, which is suited for most dogs. Your vet may recommend periodic testing be done on your dog to test for possible liver damage if the drug is used on the dog for a long time. Discuss products with your vet and experiment, using more than one medication to see which is most effective. Low doses of human drugs such as Ibuprofen can also be used on dogs; however, check with your vet first before giving any medicines.
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