According to CARE (Canine Arthritis Resources and Education), canine arthritis affects at least 1 in 5 dogs. It's the biggest cause of chronic pain for dogs. The early signs are unmistakable - slowing down on walks, difficulty getting up, and climbing steps. The first thing is to get a proper diagnosis from your vet and discuss the various treatment options. Following that, create an arthritic-friendly home to accommodate your pup. These minor changes can help to alleviate your dog’s pain and make it easier for him to get around.
Most dogs with arthritis have difficulty stabilising themselves on slippery surfaces like marble and vinyl flooring. In some cases, after several falling incidences, a dog may develop a fear of walking on certain slippery surfaces because he expects to feel pain if he falls. Observe the slippery spots around your house and place non-slip mats or even yoga mats on these locations. This will help your dog to get around the house without falling over and hurting himself. Your pup’s joints are already aching, and it doesn’t help to have him constantly toppling over, causing further injury and pain to his joints.
Make sure that the rugs lie flat and are not curled up. On top of arthritic pain, some older dogs may also be suffering from muscle weakness and decreased coordination. These dogs tend to drag their feet and may get tripped up on rugs that curl up. Use anti-slip underlays or adhesive strips around the corner of the rug to prevent it from curling up.
Finally, do keep your doggy’s nails trimmed. Long nails can cause instability as the nails prevent your dog’s paw from touching the ground, causing him to lose grip when he walks. For basic home grooming, try this DoggyMan Ergonomic Stainless Steel Nail Clipper For Cats & Dogs.
Non-slip doggy socks
These socks have a rubberized sole to prevent slipping. Do take note that not all dogs will welcome the idea of wearing socks. If your dog will wear them, it will help with areas that don’t have non-slip rugs. The socks will definitely help to make getting up from a lying position easier.
Elevate food and water bowls
Raising the food and water bowls off the ground can help dogs’ suffering from carpal, elbow, shoulder, and neck arthritis pain. Dogs suffering from arthritic pain in their front limbs may have a more difficult time reaching down to eat or drink. Reaching down to eat or drink would mean having to shift more weight to their aching front limbs. Raising the bowl to the level that allows a neutral spine and minimal neck flexion will shift some weight back on the pelvic limbs. The ideal level of the food bowl is typically at about the dog’s shoulders.
Please take note that if your dog is a breed that is at increased risk for gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), speak with your veterinarian first before elevating your dog’s food and water bowls.
There are many commercially available elevated feeders. Some come with adjustable height, while others carry a more basic design like this PETKIT Polka Footed Feeding Bowl Set for Cats & Dogs. Whichever bowl or feeder you choose, make sure it is elevated at the correct level, which is at your dog’s shoulder level.
Orthopaedic dog beds
When it comes to senior dogs or dogs with arthritis, the type of bed matters. Choose a bed with thicker mattresses for better cushioning. Beddings made from memory foam are excellent choices as they provide the support and the cushion that your achy pup will need while he rests. The FuzzYard Big Dreamer (Yardsters) Dog Bed is super thick. It will provide the much-needed support and cushion to your arthritic pup.
For paw parents looking for the best doggy bed for their arthritic pups, the Henry Hottie Orthopedic (Red) Dog Bed comes highly recommended. This orthopaedic bed is endorsed and recommended by leading veterinary rehabilitation and physiotherapy specialists. This bed is also made with a patented non-toxic, thermostatic, dual-layer mattress that is specially designed to cradle your pet with gentle softness and provides the necessary therapeutic support.
Other useful tools to help with mobility
If your dog has trouble climbing a few steps to your front door or getting in and out of your car, consider getting a ramp. Do make sure the slope is not too steep for your dog to climb.
These are not the normal, walking harnesses. A dog-lift harness is essentially a sling that wraps around your dog’s body, and it comes with a long handle. Wrap the harness (sling) around your dog. Pull up gently on the handle to take some of the weight off your dog’s legs, hips, or spine. Don’t try to lift your dog off the ground, just take some of the weight off his hips and legs. A dog-lift harness can be useful on dogs with hip dysplasia, and semi-mobile dogs that can still enjoy short walks.
Create a makeshift dog-lift harness by rolling up a big towel and slinging it under your dog’s belly to provide some temporary mobility support. This helps when you want to make very short trips like pee or poop trips to the lawn.
Do you stay in a home with multiple levels? If so, stairs should be blocked off with a pet gate for your dog’s safety. Your arthritic pet may try to climb up or down the stairs.
Dog joint supplements for arthritis
Your dog’s diet is of utmost importance when it comes to dogs with arthritis. Keeping your dog on a healthy weight is crucial. Excessive weight causes extra strain on your dog’s body and joints. You will want to pay close attention to his diet and weight. For overweight senior dogs with joint pain, consider changing to a senior dog food which typically contains less calories for better weight management. Some senior dog food may even come with added glucosamine for joint management. Adding a doggy joint supplement may help with arthritic pain management. Glucosamine and fish oil are often recommended.
Adding a collagen-rich supplement to your pet’s diet may help too. Choose a supplement containing Collagen Type II. Type II collagen contains natural glucosamine & chondroitin that may help with your dog’s cartilage, bone, and other types of connective tissues. Dom & Cleo EON JointJuvenate Supplements For Dogs & Cats is a human-grade joint care supplement containing a comprehensive, synergistic blend of essential organic nutrients that can be easily assimilated and utilized by the body for better joint health.
With appropriate management, dogs with arthritis can and do live a normal life expectancy. It is important to remember that their diet, activity and play will have to be adjusted to accommodate their changing bodies. Your veterinarian can provide specific guidance about those details.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.