Our most important goal in caring for a dog with arthritis, is making sure they are as comfortable and pain free as possible. The good news is there are some quick, easy and helpful lifestyle changes you can make, starting right now.
Food and water bowls
Elevating the bowls means less stretching so less chance of pain when drinking or eating. There are lots of great adjustable height bowls on the market, in a variety of price ranges. Alternatively do what I do and turn a casserole dish upside down, then put the water bowl on top. That is a perfect height for my small dogs, but you’ll need more than that if you have a bigger dog. You can do the same with the food bowl, although I hold it for Red because she has a bit of dementia and sometimes has trouble finding her food.
If your dog seems perfectly happy with the bed he has now, fantastic. However, if it looks like he’s having trouble settling, it may be time to consider something different. What he will be comfortable with may take some figuring out, so be prepared for a case of trial and error.
- Orthopaedic beds are a great option and some even have magnets which have been a big help to many dogs
- Beds with elevated sides should be lower in the front so it’s easier to get into
- Heating pads, electric mats, self heating mats or microwavable packs can all be added to his current bed
- Adding a mat or pad in the bottom of your dog’s bed, or underneath, will help if the current bed has lost its’ sponginess, or is too thin
Over the years Red has had a variety of styles, and she’s been happy with all of them. All that changed about three years ago when, quite by accident, we discovered how much she loves to sleep on a comforter. Long story short I was away and my husband was in charge of caring for Red. One night she would not settle, no matter what he tried. He finally put her on the bed on top of a comforter, and she didn’t move until the morning.
I no longer bother with a dog bed but instead use double comforters. They’re cushiony and easy enough for her to fold into the varying shapes she likes. I put a self warming mat underneath, a blanket on top and she’s tucked in and loving’ it!!
Assisted Living Devices
Ramps are handy for pets needing help getting in and out of the car, or having trouble using stairs. Check the length against your car before you buy, as a gradual incline will be easier for your dog to walk up and down than a steep one.
Carpeted pet stairs mean your dog still has access to your bed, or living room furniture!
A pet stroller is another great help, and something I can’t say enough good things about. I wrote a review about the one I bought for my little dog, and it was worth every penny. It’s lightweight, has a basket underneath for stuff, folds easily with a hook to keep it closed, cup holders and compartments on a padded handlebar, and mesh in front and back for airflow. She’s able to join us on a lot more outings, and when she needs a rest she has a comfortable stroller to ride in. I add a blanket and off we go.
Nails that are too long make walking uncomfortable. Because the quicks on older dog’s nails tend to be quite long, very little of the nail can be trimmed at a time. That means more frequent visits to the groomer, unless of course you do it yourself.
At night I block off quite a large area around my dog’s bed, then cover the floor with pee pads. If she has to pee overnight – which she often does – she does what she has to do then goes back to sleep. The bonus is she doesn’t have to wake me up to take her out!
Slippery floors and arthritic dogs are not a good combination. I am not suggesting you invest in wall to wall carpeting, but perhaps add some throw rugs with a nonslip padding underneath, carpet squares or other padded surfaces, to help your dog be more sure footed.
Make sure you also buy a good enzymatic cleaner and stain remover, for accidents.
Exercise and play
Exercise is still an important part of your dog’s overall well being, and arthritic dogs can benefit. Short walks on even surfaces and swimming are options, but speak to your vet to help you determine the best type, frequency and duration of exercise and play.
It’s important to know there are lots of options for pain relief, so there is no need for your dog to be in pain. The types of pain relief recommended will not only depend on your dog and the severity of his condition, but also on the vet. What I mean by that is – some vets will immediately prescribe drugs, others will also/instead recommend supplements such as glucosamine, omega3s, acupuncture, hydrotherapy…
I like to do some research on my own so I can have a more productive conversation with my vet. I like to be able to go to my appointment with options to discuss, in case my vet doesn’t mention them.
If you’re interested in alternative options for pain relief and your vet isn’t familiar or a “believer” in them, nothing is stopping you from having a consultation with a holistic vet. They don’t always charge for an information session, and you could get a better understanding of a different philosophy to treating animals. Also, you don’t have to choose one type of vet over another, you can work with both as long as the lines of communication are open.
Not too difficult is it!
Here you see, with just a few minor changes, you can make your arthritic dog so much more comfortable.
What lifestyle changes have you made that have improved your dog’s quality of life? I’d love to hear your tips, so leave them in the comment section below.
I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, a new Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.