Arthritis isn’t curable but can be managed effectively using treatments that focus on reducing pain and inflammation, slowing the progression of the disease, facilitating the repair of damaged tissues and maintaining or improving joint function. Vets may recommend a combination of the following:
Controlled exercise and physical therapy
Disease modifying agents
Nutritional joint supplements, such as Supleneo flex
Supleneo flex is a daily supplement, which is suitable for all breeds, sizes and ages of dog and contains the key ingredients that can improve joint health, such as glucosamine. In addition, Supleneo flex’s natural liver flavour means dogs love the taste, making it’s easy and fun to give them their supplement every day. It is low calorie, so you can give it to your dog, instead of a treat.
Osteoarthritis can make life a little more challenging for your dog. However, there are number of tools at your disposal to enhance his quality of life, and you can cater to your dog’s condition by making changes around the house. Here are some suggestions:
Non-skid floor surface. Osteoarthritis plays havoc with balance and falls become more likely. Equally bad, it makes your dog a bit scared to move. Make pathways of non-skid runners so that he can walk securely across slippery hardwood, tiles and linoleum surfaces.
Cushioned bedding. Provide cushioned islands at strategic areas in your house where your dog can sit or sleep comfortably. Make sure he has somewhere comfortable to spend the night.
Food and water above ground level. If you elevate your dog’s food and water bowls, he won’t need to bend to reach them. This can really help if he has osteoarthritis in his neck or forelegs, as he won’t need to bend down to eat and drink.
Ramps. This may be a stretch for most households, but if you can introduce ramps to replace stairs, that will make your pet’s life easier. If not, just make sure that you provide assistance when he is negotiating stairs.
Heating pad. Warmth tends to help reduce pain and inflammation. A good quality heating pad can improve your dog’s sleep. Always ensure that only part of the bedding is heated; your dog will move around to the spot with his ideal temperature.
Supervision. Your dog’s condition makes him vulnerable in many ways. For example, he is at a major disadvantage if attacked by loose dogs at the dog park; also, he can get into trouble on her own chasing birds or wildlife. Regular supervision will help prevent this.
Nobody can predict all the circumstances in which osteoarthritis puts your dog at a disadvantage. But, if you make it a point to regularly consider situations from his point of view, you will usually recognise what might be difficult for him and take steps to remedy the situation.
A diagnosis of canine osteoarthritis often means that your responsibilities to your dog increase somewhat, but it is well within your ability to provide a good quality of life for your pet for years to come.
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Ryan O'Meara is group editor at Total Pet Publishing. A former professional dog trainer, Ryan is a frequent commentator in the media on a wide variety of canine issues including dog attacks, animal welfare and dog behaviour.