Arthritis, or the inflammation or swelling in a joint, can be caused by many things; instability of the immediate ligaments and tendons, unusual bone or joint development, injury or damage to the joint, injury caused by the immune system, or an infection. While anti-inflammatory medications are common treatments for arthritis, another process involves protecting the joints cartilage and “nourishing” the joint. Here are ten tips to help keep your arthritic pet comfortable.
- Slip-free Flooring. Place stable rugs or carpeting in areas your pet frequents that are hardwood or tile. This makes it so they can have more sure traction and, therefore, balance. It’s very easy for your arthritic pet to lose their footing and cause injury on these slippery floors.
- A Soft Bed. Some beds in pet stores and online are made especially for pets with arthritis, like, hammocks, waterbeds, and beds that come with a lot of extra cushioning. This is because soft beds help support joints and bones, making your pet more comfortable. This is particularly important in lean pets in which bony prominences can continuously rub on hard surfaces.
- Ramps or Cubes. Specially designed ramps and cubes can be made of wood or plastic and are offered in pet catalogs, stores, and websites. Furniture and stairs can be complicated obstacles for your aging friend. Cubes and ramps can help pets securely get into or out of bed, climb stairs, or get in and out of your vehicle.
- Pain Management. Medication for pain management can make a big, positive difference in the life of an arthritic pet. NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can suppress pain and inflammation by reducing production of the class of compounds called prostaglandins. Never treat your pet with drugs at home without seeing your veterinarian. Your vet can help you find out if medication could benefit your pet and what they can safely take.
- Peace & Quiet. Some pets, as they age, lose their tolerance and patience. Painful joints can make it harder for them to enjoy playing. Always supervise any playtime with children and, if you feel uncomfortable, consider restricting play from young children. Even big events like holidays can be more distressing for a pet with arthritic pain. They may really want to join in the festivities even though they are painful, injuring themselves or making things worse. It may be a good idea to limit an arthritic dogs time as the center of attention.
- Massage. In humans and animals, massage can increase flexibility, circulation, calmness and a general sense of wellness. You can try carefully massaging your pet yourself, but there are also professional animal massage therapists that can help provide your pet a more comprehensive treatment.
- Dietary Therapy and Weight Control. Obesity can make arthritis more of a problem. Weight loss will not only make your pet healthier, but it also reduces the amount of work already painful bones and joints have to do. There are also diets out there formulated just to help arthritic animals. Omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate integrated into a pet’s diet have been shown to help with arthritis by maintaining weight, reducing pain and improving mobility.
- Exercise. Having your pet exercise can help strengthen the ligaments and muscles, reducing the probability and risk of injury. First, see your veterinarian so they can help you determine if regular exercise will help your pet, and what kind of program is best.
- Patience. Pets with arthritis are going to need extra time to climb stairs, walk, get in and out of vehicles, and even stand. Be patient with them and don’t rush them. Physically support them or give them extra time to get themselves around.
- Grooming. Pets with arthritis have a hard time keeping themselves as clean as they normally would, especially in places that are hard to reach. Make up for it and don’t neglect their grooming. You can help them out with a sanitary trim around the rear end. Also, simply brushing them regularly will keep away tangles and mats that can hurt fragile older skin.