Even old dogs can still have fun; they just need better preparation for their good times.
As dogs age, their joints age, too. Just like people, dogs can develop arthritis as they get on in years. Fortunately, there are many options for your dog when it comes to dealing with arthritis pain, and developing this problem does not necessarily mean that his happy days of frolicking outside or enjoying walks around the block are at an end. However, your dog will require some additional “maintenance” in order to keep him comfortable so that, when the time comes to play, he feels ready and able. Many pet owners do not want to medicate their pets for pain, believing that this may actually prolong the animal’s suffering. If you do not wish to give your arthritic dog pain medication, but are hopeful he still can live a happy, productive life, try these natural and medication-free steps to help improve his arthritis problems.
1. Invest in an orthopedic bed for your pet. While this is not a holistic remedy, it is a practical and logical thing to do. Orthopedic beds distribute your pet’s weight more evenly and help her rest comfortably without pain. This will give her renewed energy and enable her to enjoy more of her life with you.
2. Give your dog homemade meals. If your pet is suffering from arthritis, it can help to make him homemade meals or dog food rather than buying it at a store. This enables you to create a custom dining experience tailored to your dog’s specific needs. Your vet can help you identify what vitamins, minerals and enzymes will be best to feed your pet and what types of food are best to put those ingredients in. Generally, a diet high in raw vegetables is good for arthritic dogs, and many human owners find that the same natural remedies that ease their arthritis–such as St. John’s wort–also help their dogs. Talk to your vet before beginning any new dietary regimen to prevent food allergies and malnutrition.
3. Avoid potatoes and tomatoes. These ingredients, while common in many dog foods, can exacerbate arthritis and make your pet feel even worse. Avoid anything in the nightshade family.
4. Consider hot and cold treatments. A dog with inflamed joints can benefit greatly from these treatments. Chronic arthritis sufferers will find relief from a warm wrap on the most swollen joint areas. At most drug stores, you can purchase adjustable Velcro wraps that can be microwaved. If your dog only recently started dealing with arthritis, a cold pack may ease the swelling in her joints and even halt the progress of the problem. If your dog rebels against either treatment, discontinue it, as it will do more harm than good.
5. Learn canine massage. While you may not want to take your pet to a masseuse, you can help him relax and even alleviate the pain in his joints by giving him a home massage. There are many books on these techniques, and most veterinarians can give you pointers on handling tender joints effectively.
6. Evaluate the potential for acupressure. Acupuncture is the art of inserting needles at strategic points to alleviate symptoms of many ailments. You should not attempt it. However, acupressure is a much more popular canine version of this healing technique, and involves placing pressure in strategic areas to lesson arthritic pain. You can take your dog to an acupressurist or you can learn the technique yourself. Stress often plays a major factor in canine arthritis flare-ups, so even if the acupressure does not directly ease the pain in your pet’s joints, it can help her relax and begin to heal.