Arthritis is not something you can catch and, yes, it’s more common in older animals. Pets like dogs and cats are susceptible to it because they have more bone growth at higher rates than humans do. Many things can cause arthritis – trauma, cancer and genetics all affect the risk of developing arthritis.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. It can be tough on pets.
Dogs with arthritis may not want to move around much, or they might find it challenging to get comfortable when they do. They might also have trouble getting into their favorite sleeping positions. So we’ve compiled some tips and suggestions on how you can help your fur kid live more comfortably. In this article, we’ll cover everything from all-natural pet CBD supplements to weight management strategies.
But first, let’s take a closer look at arthritis.
Arthritis in Pets Explained
Arthritis contributes to pain, swelling, loss of flexibility and difficulty with movement. The pain inflicted by arthritis varies from day to day and from pet to pet as well. However, pets with arthritis usually show symptoms like fatigue, stiffness, itching or lameness.
Arthritis is more common in animals with larger body masses, such as big dogs and large cats. However, it can develop in pets like rabbits and rodents as well.
Arthritis is not unusual in aging pets like dogs and cats, but it can happen at any stage of their lives. The treatment options are limited for younger animals, but there are more options for older ones. There are several causes of arthritis in pets:
- Infection or tumor
- Hereditary factors
- Lifestyle (activity level)
These causes can be more or less severe. Unfortunately, there is no real cure for arthritis, so the best you can do is manage the condition. The goal of arthritis treatment is to relieve pain and improve mobility in pets.
Six Tips for Improving the Life of Pets with Arthritis
One way you can help your pet with arthritis is to give them supplements. For dogs, glucosamine and chondroitin work together to reduce pain and inflammation. Cats can also benefit from these supplements.
These products are often available in either pill or liquid at the pet store or vet’s office, so they’re easy to administer. But you should always talk to your vet before administering any type of supplement to your pet.
Another supplement suitable for pets is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD oil for cats is easily applied to food. The same goes for CBD oil for dogs. It will help with their inflammation and also help ease anxiety due to pain.
Special Sleeping Area
Try creating a special bed for them, with raised areas that provide comfortable places to rest their paws and heads when they’re lying down. Make sure it’s large enough for your pet to move freely in at least one direction, but don’t leave any gaps between the different compartments because this could cause discomfort or injury.
Ensure that you’re offering them soft support surfaces, such as pillows or cushions.
You can also warm and add comfort to a special bed for your pet with a microwavable heating pad or gel pack. This is especially appreciated on colder days when arthritis issues may be acting up even more than usual.
Pet massage can help provide relief for pets at home. It will help by soothing aches and pains in dogs and cats that suffer from arthritis.
Pet massage should start with a gentle, therapeutic touch. Be mindful that they’re achy and sore, so not much pressure is needed.
Touching your pet’s front paws is an excellent place to start. Next, use your thumbs to press on the pad of each paw and then run your fingers along the back of each paw and around the heel pads. Alternate between gently massaging down from the joints and up toward the toes.
Next, move to the back legs by pressing and sliding with your thumb or palm across their inner hind leg from elbow to hock (approximately halfway down their back legs).
You can continue across their backs and sides. However, small flinches may occur when you touch sensitive areas, so be aware of what your pet’s body language is telling you.
And, of course, if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, some professionals can do the job for you. Many even make house calls!
To keep your pet comfortable, it’s essential to keep their weight under control. This is important for their entire life, and starting good habits early will mean less pain and discomfort later.
Obesity among dogs is at an alarming 25-30 percent level in the USA, with nearly 50 percent weighing higher than they should. Equally alarming rates exist for cats, with almost 60 percent being overweight as well.
This can be especially difficult with pets that have arthritis because many of them stop moving around as much and therefore aren’t burning as many calories through physical activity.
Providing a healthy diet plan for your pet that’s lower in calories and fat will help with this issue. If you’re having trouble figuring it out, speak with your vet or a qualified pet nutritionist.
If your pet is having trouble getting up or moving around, it might be time to consider giving them a lift.
Consider using a stair-climbing harness or other types of supportive accessories to help your pet get around, especially when they feel the need to walk up and down stairs.
For dogs, everything starts by placing their front legs through the handles of a pull-up harness made from fabric. For cats, a lift can be done with a towel that’s been draped across their back and under the front paws.
Once your pet is secured in their lift, you can use it to move them around to wherever they need to go. However, you should also watch for signs of stress or discomfort while using a lift so you know when it might be time to stop using the lift and just let your pet stay in a resting position.
You’ve Got This
Now that you know how to help your arthritic pet get around, you can make sure they live pain- and stress-free at home for as long as possible. If you have any questions or concerns about caring for your pet’s arthritis, reach out to your vet for help.
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