Being told that your dog has arthritis can be shocking and downright disheartening. Upon hearing such a diagnosis, probably the first question that crossed your mind is whether you’ll be able to enjoy all the fun activities you used to enjoy with him. The truth is that most arthritic dogs don’t like exercising mainly because of their stiff and achy joints.
But, if they don’t stay active, they’re likely to gain weight, which leads to more arthritis. It’s therefore important that you consult your vet to help you come up with a more suitable exercise routine for his condition. Continue reading to learn more about arthritis in dogs:
Symptoms Of Arthritis In Dogs
Some of the most common symptoms of arthritis in dogs include:
• Difficulty in getting up due to stiff and achy joints
• Loss of muscle mass
• Licking affected limbs repeatedly
• Limping – you’ll notice this mostly after your dog has exercised
• Lameness in his legs
• Some dogs with this condition can also suffer from spinal problems, which might result in a hunched posture.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, contact your vet as soon as possible. Though there’s no cure currently for arthritis, there are several different ways that you can use to manage the discomfort and pain he feels. This includes (but not limited to) anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, exercise, dietary changes, surgery, pain relievers as well as supplements. It’s only after your pet has been physically examined by a vet that he or she can advise you on the best way to manage his condition.
Tips To Help You Keep Your Arthritic Dog Active
Lack of activity can make the condition of your pet worse by making the joints stiffer and more painful. On the other hand, staying active can dramatically improve his health and quality of life. Not only does exercise improves blood circulation to his painful joints, but it also helps to strengthen his muscles. Here are some tips to help him stay active:
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight can worsen your dog’s condition since the excess weight causes additional stress on his achy joints. Therefore, you need to make changes in his diet and exercise routine to help him lose weight. Doing so can dramatically reduce his symptoms, making it easier for him to walk, climb the stairs, play etc.
Your dog will most likely find it hard to get up the first time due to his stiff joints. You can help get his joints moving by beginning any exercise routine with a low-impact, short walk. After a few minutes, he should be able to move with ease.
Go Slow When Introducing New Exercises
It’s much better to maintain low-impact daily exercises for your arthritic dog instead of doing a single intense workout over the weekend. That is because introducing several new exercises to your arthritic dog all at once will only cause him more pain, injury and stress.
Some of the low-impact exercises to consider include swimming, short hikes (on level trails), short and gentle indoor games, leash walking as well as playing with interactive toys.
Help Your Dog Relax Afterwards
After every exercise, ensure that your pet cools down and relaxes. Do everything possible to make him as comfortable as possible. You can give him a gentle massage to improve blood circulation to his joints. Additionally, you can also warm up a water bottle, heating pad or blanket and place on his hips to soothe his painful joints. Be sure that whatever you use isn’t too hot before putting it on your pet.
Remember that too little exercise can worsen your arthritic dog’s condition by stiffening his joints further, while too much will cause him pain and discomfort. So, it’s a matter of changing his exercise routine gradually with the help of your vet until you find what works best for him.