Joint issues are common in any aging body – human or canine – and arthritis in senior dogs is something every older pet family needs to understand. Luckily, living and coping with arthritis is extremely manageable. The Old Dog House, a rescue organization in Jacksonville dedicated to helping dogs ages 7 and older, shares information about arthritis in senior dogs.
Arthritis is commonly found in senior, large dog breeds. According to PetMD, some breeds are more prone to arthritis including the Newfoundland, Rottweiler and Bernese Mountain dogs.
There are a variety of causes that may affect the severity of your pet’s arthritis such as:
- Ligament degeneration
- Repeat injury to a specific spot
- Hip or elbow dysplasia
- Obesity or thyroid issues
- Joint or degenerative spinal joint disease
- Metabolic or congenital disorders such as hemophilia or Wobbler syndrome
Because arthritis is so widespread, noticing symptoms isn’t always easy. Ask yourself the questions below if you think your pet might have arthritis. If you answer yes to more than two of these questions, speak to your veterinarian.
Has your pet …
- … been limping when they first get up or start moving around?
- … recently had difficulty with once-easy tasks such as getting in and out of the car, jumping or managing to get up and down stairs?
- … been more tired or sleepy than usual?
- … shown signs of irritability when being played with or handled?
- … cried out or grunted repeatedly?
Also ask yourself…
- Does your pet have a decreased appetite?
- Does your pet seem uncomfortable or display unusual behavior?
If your veterinarian determines your pet does have some form of arthritis, the doctor may prescribe a supplement to help with joint function and mobility, a pain or anti-inflammatory drug. Here are some at-home “treatments” to help improve your pet’s life while living with arthritis:
- Make sure your dog receives high-quality pet food and maintains a healthy weight for their breed. Ask your veterinarian for specific recommendations based on your pets’ needs.
- Ensure your dog gets appropriate exercise. Every dog needs even light exercise to keep their joints and muscles active and warm. When your pet does play with you or other animals, monitor their behavior to make sure they aren’t being too rough on the body.
- Offer a soft, fluffy bed for your pet to lie on instead of hard floors.
- Use a ramp system to help with stairs or getting in and out of vehicles.
- Keep your pet in a warm, dry atmosphere. Cold temperatures and wet weather often irritate joints and muscles.
- Consult your veterinarian on therapy or massage tactics to help keep your pet comfortable.
- In truly severe cases, surgery may be an option to discuss with your veterinarian.
Remember to keep regular visits with your veterinarian. While arthritis in senior dogs isn’t always easy to detect, it is manageable. If your pet does have arthritis, there are a wide range of options to help your dog live a comfortable lifestyle.
The Old Dog House is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization located in Jacksonville, Florida, dedicated to giving older and senior dogs a second chance at a new life. At so many shelters, the age of a dog determines its chances of reaching the adoption floor to find a new forever home.As a result, many wonderful dogs are denied the ability to live out their lives in dignity, surrounded by love. The Old Dog House aims to enlighten the public to the joys of owning an older or senior dog through educational programs and to place rescued dogs into true forever homes through adoption programs. The dogs that come into the care of The Old Dog House will remain in our care until adopted. We rely solely on donations from the public to support our organization. 100% of donations received are used for the care and rehabilitation of the dogs at The Old Dog House.