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Arthritis is an increasingly common condition in dogs, especially in the older generation, and is caused by a variety of factors.
Genetic disorders like hip dysplasia can manifest in canine arthritis, while environmental factors like obesity and a lack of exercise can also contribute. Let’s discover the ways to manage and minimize the condition’s impact, discuss what you can give your dog for arthritis, plus the help you can provide without resorting to medication.
Ease Arthritic pain by Supplementing with Glucosamine
Food supplementation can’t rebuild your dog’s joints unfortunately, but it can reduce inflammation and improve the body’s response in repairing damaged tissue.
The most popular supplement for arthritis is glucosamine, which can be taken either orally with food or injected straight into the joint. Injections are faster-acting than oral supplements and, although relatively expensive, may be the best choice for dogs with advanced arthritis.
Glucosamine is a natural compound already present in healthy bodies that help to keep the joints functioning normally and to rebuild any damaged cartilage. Supplementation will help your dog to replenish cartilage quicker and improve the health of the joints.
When buying glucosamine, always opt for glucosamine sulfate – this form of the compound is better absorbed by the body than others.
Manage Arthritis in Your Dog With Fish Oils and Other Supplements
Other food supplements that can help manage the pain and impact of arthritis in your dog are fish oils and chondroitin sulfate.
Fish oils are a source of Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular DHA and EPA, which help to reduce inflammation and lubricate the joints. This reduces any pain and helps your dog’s joints work as they should do.
Fish oils are derived from a variety of cold water fish (including salmon, mackerel, herring and anchovies) and are usually either available in a chewable tablet or as a liquid to add to your dog’s kibble.
You can also provide your pup with fish oils by feeding them a diet that includes a regular serving of fresh fish. Many owners prefer supplements as they’re able to control exact dosages and ensure that their pups aren’t taking in any toxins or heavy metals occasionally found in fresh fish.
Chondroitin sulfate is commonly combined with glucosamine in joint supplements as it too works to repair damaged tissue around the joints and to protect all existing cartilage. There are some in the scientific community who believe that the two compounds together improve the benefits of the other, although this is yet to be definitively proved.
Other supplements that can reduce inflammation around the joints and thus help manage any pain your dog may be experiencing are Vitamins C and E.
As well as improving joint function and reducing inflammation, all these supplements have a slew of other benefits for your dog including improved cognition, strengthened immune system and heart health support.
Just like with humans, arthritis is likely to cause your dog pain and suffering, so many owners will turn to pain relief for their dogs in a bid to minimize this. It should go without saying that you must only give your dog medication under the guidance of your vet.
Steroids and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are commonly prescribed for the treatment of arthritis, but the truth is these are more of a short-term solution. They can carry nasty side-effects and end up hurting your dog’s body in the long-term.
Experts also recommend that you avoid giving your dog aspirin, as there have been links found between it and gastric ulcers in dogs. Again, consult your vet before you give your dog anything bought over the counter.
If you’re looking for a more natural form of pain relief, you could look at Methylsulfonylmethane (commonly referred to as MSM) and green-lipped mussel. Both of these work to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis in both humans and dogs.
Optimize Their Environment
Beyond pain medication and supplementation, the best thing you can do to manage your dog’s arthritis is to ensure that their environment is as conducive to comfort as possible.
First things first, it’s worth buying them a comfortable and supportive bed that can ease pressure on their joints and distribute their weight evenly around the bed. Just like many humans choose to invest in a quality mattress for a good night’s sleep, a quality dog bed will support and your arthritic pup.
Cold temperatures and draughts are known to increase body inflammation, so make sure that your dog is kept warm throughout the day and night. Some owners like to apply a warm compress to their dog’s joints to ease any pain too (although make sure that they’re not too hot against your dog’s sensitive skin). Some dogs also benefit from canine massage to ease their joints and relax any atrophied muscles.
Here’s a video of a dog arthritis massage that can help you alleviate their pain at home:
You may also need to buy a sloped ramp if your dog regularly has to navigate steps or to get in and out of a car.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
Without a doubt, the best way to manage your dog’s arthritis is to lower their chances of developing it in the first place. Aside from inherited genetics, many dogs develop the condition due to environmental factors that could easily be avoided with a little awareness.
Canine obesity is one of the major contributors to arthritis, as the excess weight your dog has to carry around simply piles on the pressure around their joints. This depletes the cartilage and connective tissue, making it more challenging and painful for the joints to work as they should.
By keeping your dog at a healthy weight, and making sure that they have plenty of exercise, you’ll keep their bodies strong and slender with minimal pressure on their joints. How much exercise your pup needs varies hugely from dog to dog, but most sources recommend at least one walk a day.
It’s also a good idea to start your dog early on a food supplement program before they develop arthritis, to keep their joints healthy and keep deferring any degenerative conditions. Fish oils and glucosamine are the most popular for dogs at any age, and the additional benefits these supplements bring will improve your pup’s general health immeasurably.
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