"Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog"
--Sydney Jeanne Seward
Many of us know the joys and the challenges of living with a senior dog. As they age, it is not uncommon for our furry family members to develop arthritis which can significantly impact their mobility and quality of life. As a proactive pet parent, here are some things that you can do to make their golden years more comfortable.
There are a variety of supplements, also called nutraceuticals, now available that can help ease the inflammation associated with arthritis. Some of these include glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and omega-3 fatty acids. Not all products are created equal however, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian before giving these to your pet to be sure you are getting the maximum benefit.
Many senior-specific diets now include some of the supplements above as part of their ingredients. These diets are meant to improve joint health and may be an alternative to giving pills on a daily basis. Talk to your veterinarian before switching to one of these diets, especially if your dog is currently on a specific diet for another underlying health issue.
Now is the time to spurge on that really fancy dog bed you’ve had your eye on. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but be sure to provide your old friend with a nice soft place to lay down.
If they are able to, try and maintain a routine exercise schedule. Don’t do anything extreme but, if your dog is used to going for walks and still seems to enjoy it (without being too stiff afterwards), continue to do it. Swimming is another good exercise for dogs with stiff joints.
Arthritis (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) medication
There are many medications currently available to treat dogs with arthritis. These medications can sometimes cause problems with the intestines, liver, or the kidneys so a visit to the vet and some routine blood tests will be a good idea before using these. Never use any over the counter medications for arthritis before discussing this with your family veterinarian.