Chronic pain couldn’t stop Baxter, a therapy dog with arthritis, from comforting hospice patients.
Joseph would heave Baxter onto a patient’s bed and then Baxter would dispense cuddles and kisses.
In October 2009, Baxter “eased peacefully from this life,” according to Joseph.
As in Baxter’s case, arthritis can be severe. In some cases, pet parents make the difficult decision to euthanize their pets because it is difficult to manage the disease, according to The Dog Daily.
What Causes Arthritis in Dogs?
Dogs with arthritis are suffering from inflammation of the joints, according to HealthyPet.com.
There are different types of arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis, where the cartilage that cushions joints wears down and bones rub against each other. The friction can damage the bones themselves.
What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs?
Arthritis may not be apparent right away, since dogs can’t complain about the pain.
When a dog first gets arthritis, she may start avoiding activities she used to enjoy, or become agitated when touched. She may get depressed, change eating habits or become grumpy.
How Is Arthritis in Dogs Diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will examine your dog to determine what type of arthritis she has.
James Cook, a veterinarian at the University of Missouri-Columbia, may have found a way to diagnosis arthritis, according to The Dog Daily. Cook and a research team examined the fluid that surrounds and lubricates joints, and identified seven proteins that may be linked to arthritis.
How Is Arthritis in Dogs Treated?
Veterinarians stress that you should not give your dog anti-inflammatory drugs and supplements made for humans, since they can be dangerous to dogs.
Taylor Truitt, a veterinarian and certified veterinary acupuncturist, advises pet parents to feed their dogs supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin. Chondroitin is found in cartilage, and the body produces glucosamine. Truitt said both can increase the sponginess and elasticity of cartilage, which helps the dog’s mobility.
Arthritis can be treated but is permanent, and pet parents must take steps to help their furry companions cope, such as making alterations around the home to make it easier for your dog to move around.
These are some of the things you can do, according to HealthyPet.com:
- Give your dog a padded surface in a warm, draft-free spot to cushion her joints where she sits and sleeps.
- Groom your dog regularly since she has lost her flexibility and can’t stretch as much to scratch.
- Your dog might stumble on slippery floors. Make floors safer by applying a non-skid runner, available at most home improvement and hardware stores.
- Ramps will make it easier for your dog to get on the couch, porch, etc. and keep her from jumping. You can construct one from a sheet of heavy plywood lined with carpeting. Made sure both ends are completely secured and the angle isn’t too steep.
- Your dog may try to climb the stairs even though she’s stiff. Supervise her when she’s doing this to make sure she doesn’t fall and hurt himself.
- A homemade sling of thick durable fabric can help support the weight of a large dog as she moves. Slip the sling under her chest and hold one end in each hand. Pull the ends to help her stand and get her balance.
- Warmth can soothe a sore dog while she sleeps. Wrap a hot water bottle in towels and place it in your dog’s bed.
- An arthritic dog needs to avoid strenuous exercise that could damage her joints. But light exercise is good for strengthening muscles, maintaining weight, keeping ligaments and tendons flexible, and circulating blood to stiff joints. If your dog is reluctant to move, entice her with an incentive such as a treat-filled Kong toy. Make these easy workouts enjoyable with lots of affection and maybe a healthy treat afterward.
- A healthy diet and weight management are also important to dogs suffering from arthritis because extra pounds increase stress on joints. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best ways to make life more comfortable for your dog.
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.
PHOTO: Lisa M. Herndon