Thursday, February 15, 2007

Arthritis Pain Relief For Dogs

Did you know that arthritis affects one in five dogs over the age of seven? It is a painful condition that affects the joints and can occur in your pet’s neck, hips, shoulders, elbows and back. However, there are many simple solutions that you can provide at home that will relieve the aches and pains in your dog’s joints.

Change Your Dog’s Diet:

Easy enough and it worked for my dog. Be sure you are providing a high-quality dog food with no added preservatives, food colorings, wheat, corn or soy products. It would be preferable to get a dog food that is low fat AND has low carbohydrates, but unfortunately there is no such thing as a low-carb dog food.

Just be aware that grains (which make up a large component of dry dog food) tend to increase inflammation and aggravate arthritis. A better alternative would be to switch to home-prepared meals with either cooked or raw meats and vegetables.

However, if you don’t want to prepare meals for your pet, then cut back on the dry food and start adding a cup of fresh veggie “salad” every day. Celery is excellent for the joints. I often chop up lettuce, celery, cucumber, some carrot, and any other fresh vegetables I have on hand. Just make sure to cut all vegetables into very small pieces for easy digestion (a food processor is perfect for this) and don’t use onions or mushrooms as they may be toxic to your dog.

Provide Supplements That Reduce Arthritic Swelling And Pain:

Give your dog a glucosamine tablet. Glucosamine helps the body manufacture glycosaminoglycans, which is designed to maintain cartilage structure. The recommended dosage is ¼ mg of a 500mg tablet per 10 pounds of body weight once a day. Preferably use a glucosamine tablet that also contains Chondroitin Sulfate. This supplement helps to attract water into the cartilage for added nutrition and lubrication. It also seems to inhibit excessive cartilage destroying enzymes.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring organic dietary sulphur that has been shown in studies to relieve arthritic pain, slow joint deterioration and reduce inflammation with no negative side effects.

Dogs don’t usually get enough Omega 3 fatty acids in their diets. Omega 3 helps to regulate pressure in the joints, among many other things. A good source for this is fish oil capsules. Additional vitamin E will also be needed since adding more oil to the body increases the need for this vitamin.

Reduce Excess Weight:

Extra weight on a dog puts extra pressure on the joints and causes more pain and swelling. Begin by reducing the amount of treats given, cut back a bit on food, and provide a lower fat diet for your dog. Exercising is also important. If possible, take your dog out for several shorter 10 to 15 minute walks each day rather than going for one long walk. Another great strategy is to take your dog swimming. They’ll get the exercise without stressing the joints. A bathtub works well for very small dogs. However, if your dog is a landlubber and hates water don’t push the issue.

Keep Your Dog Warm and Cozy on Cold, Damp Days:

Set up a soft bed or some layers of fleece in the area where your dog normally sleeps. If your dog usually stays outside, then provide an insulated dog house with soft bedding on the floor. Be sure the doorway is somewhat sheltered and facing away from the wind. Better yet, bring them inside when it’s cold and/or wet.

Apply Moist Heat:

Apply a hot water bottle with warm water or use a towel soaked in warm water that’s been wrung out to your dog’s aching joints. Moist heat penetrates deeply and provides welcomed relief. Do not use a heating pad as it may get too hot for the dog and burn them especially if your dog has limited mobility - they may not

be able to get up and move away from a pad that is too hot. Raise Your Dog’s Food and Water Dish. If your pet has arthritis in their neck or shoulders, consider raising their food and water bowls so they don’t have to bend their head down to eat.

Give Your Pet A Massage:

Don’t we all love to have sore muscles rubbed? Gently rub around the affected joint and massage the surrounding muscles. This gentle kneading and the heat from your hands should ease some of the pain.

Use A Ramp For The Stairs:

If your dog has a hard time going up and down stairs, think about buying or making a ramp that can be laid over the stairs so your dog can more easily maneuver them. This is especially useful for when they need to go outside to “do their thing” or are required to jump into a truck for a trip to the vet.

Additional alternatives include herbal and homeopathic products, acupressure, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. Safer and often just as effective, these are just some of the things that you can do at home for your dog to give them relief from arthritic pain.

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