It can be heartbreaking to watch your older Labrador slow down as arthritis gradually makes movement painful for him. Much of a dog’s daily life ties into running, playing and getting up and down. When these activities cause discomfort, his quality of life is greatly affected. There are plenty of things you can do to lessen the effects of arthritis, even if you prefer not to use medication. Much of the process involves minor lifestyle changes that work together to accommodate your aging dog, and adding natural pain relief and joint supplementation can slow the progression of the disease and increase mobility.
Things You'll Need
- Large, comfortable bed
- Joint diet
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplement
- Vitamin C
Arthritic dogs can gain weight because they tend to be more sedentary without being less hungry, and Labradors tend toward obesity to begin with. Excess weight adds a great deal of stress to the joints and will make it more difficult for him to get around. Speak to your veterinarian about an appropriate feeding schedule for your dog.
Your dog should be encouraged to move to prevent his joints from “seizing.” The exercise should be gentle and slow enough for him to handle. A walk around the block or a relaxed game of fetch is enough for some dogs. Labs love to swim, and the lack of joint pressure makes this a perfect activity for arthritic dogs. Let his willingness to participate be your guide.
Sleeping on a cold, hard floor can aggravate arthritis pain. Your dog’s bed should have at least 3 inches between his body and the floor, and should be large enough for him to stretch out in. There are beds with therapeutic mattresses designed specifically for arthritic dogs.
Feed your Labrador a “joint diet.” These diets have added supplements and vitamins that help lubricate the joints, leading to less pain and an increased range of motion. Most joint diets are only available with a veterinarian’s prescription.
Pain Relief / Supplementation
Give your dog glucosamine and chondroiton. Most veterinarians agree that glucosamine and chondroitin is the safest and most effective joint supplement out there. A simple pill once or twice daily can stimulate the growth of cartilage and reduce inflammation that causes pain.
Try an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Omega-3s are available in a capsule that can be pierced and mixed into your dog’s food. Many veterinarians believe that Omega-3s are useful in reducing inflammation that causes pain. An added benefit is that they also contribute to a healthy coat and skin.
Vitamin C is a key component in collagen, which is necessary to the soft tissues that surround and support the joints. This reduces stress on the joint and may allow greater range of motion.
Give a Bromelian supplement. A small dose two or three times daily--as directed--can keep inflammation from occurring, leading to less pain.
Boswellia has anti-inflammatory properties that encourage a liberal blood supply to the joints. This induces the joints to become active on a cellular level, which stimulates the repair of damaged tissue and the growth of cartilage.