Your dog's joints go through changes with age, similar to their human owners. The muscles and tendons lose flexibility and the cushioning cartilage wears down. As the bones begin to rub together in the joints, pain and inflammation occur and your dog becomes less active. Here are some of the signs that your dog's joints hurt them and some ways to make them more comfortable.

Hiding Their Pain

Your faithful dog won't show signs of pain until it's impossible to hide. Their natural instinct to not appear weak is a strong behavioral force. This means that you have to be more aware of when your dog might be hurting because of their arthritic joints. Some of the these signs include:

  • reluctant to play
  • slower movements
  • struggling to get up from the floor after lying down
  • whimpering when you pick them up
  • decreased appetite
  • limping or favoring one leg

If you see any of these signs, a trip to the veterinarian is in order to make sure another illness isn't responsible. The vet will do blood test and X-rays to verify that your dog's joints are showing signs of arthritis.

Arthritis Treatment Options for Your Dog

This is not a curable disease, but your dog can be made comfortable. The focus of treatment is on your dog's short-term pain relief and long-term health improvement. Most treatment options will need to be delivered for the rest of your dog's life to prevent their arthritis from getting worse.

Diet changes - Low-calorie, high-protein foods will keep your dog's energy up while reducing the weight on the painful joints. If your dog is overweight, your vet may want them to be on a weight loss diet initially until they reach a more normal weight for their size and breed. Dog food with added omega 3 fatty acids provides some anti=inflammatory benefits to make the joints less painful.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - Your vet will prescribe these for short-term pain relief to reduce the joint inflammation. You can give these to your dog when they are having a particularly painful day. Unfortunately, long-term side effects, such as heart issues, prevent you from using these drugs regularly.

Steroid injections- In severe cases of joint inflammation, a steroid injection directly into the joint every few months will reduce the painful swelling giving your dog some relief.

Pet acupuncture - This procedure reduces joint inflammation and increases circulation. It is also safe to deliver long-term as part of your dog's pain management therapy.

Massage therapy - Your dog will also benefit from various massage techniques, including the use of hot and cold packs, and hydrotherapy. These stimulate the circulation in the joints which reduces swelling and pain.

Work with your vet, like Clayton Veterinary Associates, to create a pain management plan for your dog. The arthritis won't go away, but you can offer your dog several ways to help them live a long and comfortable life.