Your Dog Has Just Been Diagnosed With Osteoarthritis – Now What?

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DO:

  • Get a definitive diagnosis.
  • Use diet and exercise to take extra weight off your dog.
  • Maintain exercise but change long walks to more frequent, shorter walks.
  • Consider nutrition. Foods that help with arthritis are papaya, alfalfa, celery, and ginger.
  • Raising water and food bowls can reduce strain in the neck or back of an arthritic dog; some arthritic dogs may not eat or drink as much as they should without this sort of accommodation. Note, however, that raised bowls are contraindicated for dogs who are prone to bloat. Ask your veterinarian whether your dog is at risk for bloat.
  • Put carpet runners on hardwood floors. Try to prevent your dog from slipping, as this creates unwanted stress on the entire body.
  • Provide a soft, supportive bed.
  • Keep nails trimmed. If nails are too long they can change the gait on the dog, causing skeletal changes and arthritis in the foot/toes.
  • Use a ramp where needed (for helping your dog get in and out of the car, on to your bed or sofa, etc.). This will reduce strain on his knees and hips.
  • If your dog is having trouble getting up or walking on his own, check out slings, rear-end harnesses, wheelchairs, or carts to help keep him moving.
  • Consider physical, laser, and massage therapy, acu-puncture, and supplements. All or a combination of these will improve the quality of your arthritic dog’s life.

DON’T:

  • Self-diagnose.
  • Force an exercise regimen that your dog is not comfortable with.
  • Try any stretching of limbs without being properly trained.
  • Discontinue exercise. A certain amount of exercise remains important for your arthritic dog; it is necessary to help maintain muscle strength and mobility.
  • Ignore your dog’s extra weight. Your dog will feel so much better after taking that extra burden off sore joints.
  • Ignore sliding or falling. Don’t underestimate how damaging continual sliding and falling can be on the arthritic dog’s body.
  • Give any medication without veterinary approval.

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