Winter is here. And you may have noticed you’re not the only one slow to get going in the morning! As the cooler months progress, older dogs suffering from arthritis can feel increasingly sore and miserable.
What starts off as a bit of stiffness can quickly turn into a reluctance to run, jump and play. Even worse, your pooch may avoid all unnecessary movements and won’t make it outside in time to go to the bathroom.
It’s important to treat arthritis to help your pet live a comfortable, happy and more active life.
How to help your dog suffering from arthritis
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your dog comfortable when the temperature drops.
- Natural joint health treatments: Interpath’s 4CYTE™ for Dogs is scientifically proven to repair damaged joints affected by age, injury and arthritis.
4CYTE™ is safe to take long-term, and is used to:
- Address symptoms such as stiffness and lack of willingness to jump, run or play.
- Complement prescription joint pain treatments.
- Support healing after a joint injury or operation.
- Improve and maintain healthy joints at any stage of life.
- Boost the body’s ability to meet performance and recuperation demands in athletic and working dogs.
- Target the cause, not just the symptoms.
- Balanced exercise: Exercise in moderation, such as regular, short walks, can reduce stiffness in joints and maintain muscle. It can also help reduce your dog’s weight, which reduces stress on joints and improves mobility. However, even if your dog is keen, be sure to avoid energetic activities (like jumping, or chasing a ball) to guard against injury.
- Weight control: Watch your dog’s weight, and how much they eat. Excess kilos can put unnecessary stress on joints and hamper mobility, so reducing your dog’s weight, slowly, to a healthy level is one of the most important things you can do to reduce discomfort.
- Good nail and foot care: It is essential that you keep your dog’s toenails clipped properly so its normal walking and running gait is not distorted. Overgrown toenails place abnormal stress on the joints and ligaments of the feet. Trim them off in multiple sessions over a period of weeks until they just touch the floor when your pet is standing.
- A warm, cosy bed: Your dog will definitely appreciate a warm, thick bed, away from cold, damp and draughts. It’s also a good idea to minimise any stairs they need to climb. Orthopedic dog beds will help prevent the development of pressure-point calluses. Safe heating pads are available to ease the aches and pains that come with arthritis.
- Elevated food and water bowls: Older dogs are often more comfortable eating and drinking from elevated containers.
- Warm baths: If you need to wash your dog, make sure you use warm water and be sure to dry them completely afterwards.
What you need to know before running with your dog
Running with your dog can be great fun! But, just like us, they need to build up to it gradually – especially if they have any existing health issues.
Conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia can be aggravated by high-impact activity, so here’s four things you need to bear in mind before hitting the track together.
- Talk to your vet. It’s always a good idea to see your vet before starting a running regime with your pet. Together, you can make sure your dog is in good shape before starting out, and avoid problems later on. Your dog’s weight is one of the factors your vet will consider, as paunchy pooches will need to trim down to a healthy weight through gentle exercise and proper diet before they begin. This helps avoid considerable and unnecessary strain on the joints.
- Age limits. As a general rule, young dogs and very old dogs aren’t cut out for high-impact exercises like running.
If you have a pup, you’ll have to wait until they’re at least a year old to give their bones and muscles time to mature. Until this time, running – especially long-distance running – can cause serious musculoskeletal problems in later life.
If, on the other hand, your dog is starting to feel its age, it’s best to consult your vet for advice as factors that may prevent your dog from running safely vary widely between breeds and individuals.
- Breed matters. Although most dogs love to run, not all are cut out for long distances. Some gundogs, scent hounds and herding dogs – such as the Siberian Husky, Hungarian Vizsla, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Weimaraner, German Short Hair Pointer and English Setter – are capable of running half-marathon distance. Other popular breeds, such the Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Border Collie and Australian Cattle dogs, suit 10kms or less.
Pooches most comfortable with a walk around the block include Bassett Hounds, Dachshunds and dogs that have a tendency to overheat, such as Pugs and Bulldogs.
- Assisted recovery. It’s important for your dog’s bone, joint and muscle health to rest and recover between runs. This means a few days off every week in between workouts. You may also wish to consider a good joint health treatment, like Interpath’s 4CYTE™ for Dogs, to protect your pet’s joints, assist recuperation and alleviate any stiffness after exercise.