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How can I help improve my dog’s pain?
If your dog’s showing signs of suffering badly with arthritis, it’s worth doing some warm-up movements with him, just as you’d do yourself before weight lifting or cardio.
Dog joint pain can make dogs reluctant to get up and run about. However it’s widely believed that, in many cases, dogs that don’t exercise suffer more with the effects of canine arthritis than dogs that remain active despite their condition.
Modify your dog’s exercise to a low impact pace, so try activities like slow walks around the park, or taking your dog for a swim to ease arthritic pain. Moderate exercise increases blood flow and mobility in the joints which encourages healing in the inflammed areas.
How does arthritis in dogs occur?
Research shows that ‘moderate running exercise locally alters the biological properties of young articular cartilage’*, which means that medium intensity exercises can affect the status of a dog’s cartilage.
Arthritic dogs typically have very thick cartilage at the joints which rubs together as the muscles move. This eventually wears down through friction.
As the cartilage becomes damaged, the body’s natural response is to create inflammation and swelling in the area to protect against further destruction. It’s this inflammation that creates dog joint pain.
Studies have found that regular and moderate running exercises in young dogs can reduce cartilage thickness by an estimated 6%*, which reduces the risk of damage by friction in old age.
You might be concerned that medium and high-intensity exercises, especially weight-bearing exercises, could be detrimental to dogs in the long term. We investigated the safety aspects of exercise and older dogs with arthritis and found research confirming that these types of activities don’t lead to premature damage* of the joints or muscles, or accelerate cartilage degeneration.
Keeping your dog active is considered one of the best ways of reducing the risk of dog joint pain in the future.
What’s the best exercise for dogs with arthritis?
The exercise regime is a little different to standard exercises for dogs. A young, fit, healthy dog will love to race around, to chase balls, or dig in the sand. But exercise for a dog with inflammation should be much lower impact. Those that don’t put any additional strain onto the painful joints. By low impact exercise we mean taking your dog for slow to moderate walks and swimming.
Gently moving your dog’s legs, or encouraging him to stand up and move around the house, helps loosen stiff muscles and makes your dog much more responsive to other exercises.
Moderate walking and swimming activities increase blood flow and mobility in the joints without irritating the area causing more pain. Light exercise encourages healing in the areas that are inflammed.
If arthritis is caused by the dog being overweight or obese, low impact exercises like these can make a significant difference. Exercise promotes weight loss, strengthen muscles, and assists the dog to get fitter without risking damage to the joints. The more weight that’s lost, the less a dog should be affected by obesity-related arthritis.
The key is to encourage exercise at regular intervals, but at a much lower level of intensity, and for a limited time.
It’s about keeping up with a routine and not allowing for long periods of inactivity when the muscles have an opportunity to stiffen.
Although a dog with arthritis may not seem keen on going for a walk, short but frequent exercises really can make a huge difference to the level of pain and discomfort.
Doing what’s best for your dog’s pain
As dog owners, we all want what’s best for our pets. It can be very difficult to encourage a dog in pain to exercise. But it’s important to remember that exercise is one of the best things we can do for our canine friends to relieve them of any pain and discomfort.
We need to help them build up and straighten their muscles to help lessen the effects of arthritis in the long term.
Important Note: We recommend always consulting your vet before beginning any new exercises so you can be confident your dog is medically well enough to take part in such activities.
How else can I help my dog’s pain?
Hip and Joint Supplements
Natural, easy to administer supplements for dogs can help with pain relief so you can get your best friend moving again.
They act in multiple ways to increase a dog’s mobility by adding nutritional support for maintaining muscle, lubricating joints, supporting the connective tissue and soothing joints.
Daily supplements that promote healthy joint function and flexibility contain ingredients like Omega 3 oils, glucosamine, DHA and EPA. These well known ingredients are essential building blocks for parts of the joints like cartilage, ligaments and the fluids that surround joints. They help prevent the structure breaking down further while supporting joint repair.
Heated Dog Bed
Warmth is soothing for painful joints. Not only is it comforting, but heat encourages good blood flow that’s necessary to lubricate those weary limbs and hips and carry good nutrients to where they are needed most to accelerate healing and carry away the toxins.
Warmth helps the joints not to stiffen up. You might be noticing the difficulty your dog has with stairs or getting up after laying down or sleeping. Your dog gets pain relief from the warmth and having a deep softness to nestle into.
Self Warming Dog Bed
We recommend a bed with sherpa lining like our Australian Made Choozy range of dog beds. Sherpa is warm, soft, washable and cosy. It’s a perfect alternative to wool or sheepskin and it has the same insulating qualities while drawing moisture away so skin stays dry.
Electric Heated Dog Bed
An electric heated bed is a joy for a dog with arthritis to climb in and snuggle into and enjoy the heat on his joints.
Warming Dog Blanket
A dog bed blanket is perfect for laying down on your dog’s favourite lounging spaces. Whether it be on the couch, an extra layer to add to his bed in winter, or in the car. We found the Furhaven blankets tick all the boxes.
With a layer of sherpa fleece one side, terry fleece the other and a thermal insert layer it’s self-warming. No electric cords. And water-resistant due to the waterproof interior coating. Use it as a throw over your favourite couch for your dog to lay on. You’ll have peace of mind your couch is protected from accidents.
Did I mention it’s machine washable too. CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
So to answer one of the most commonly asked questions,
Is it safe to exercise a dog with painful joints?
The good news is that as long as you encourage exercise that doesn’t aggravate the dog’s painful joints, it’s perfectly safe to allow your dog to exercise. In fact, it’s recommended. Activity for dogs should be fun for them and exciting.