Degenerative joint disease, better known as arthritis, is one of the most common conditions that affect middle-aged to senior dogs and cats. Arthritis is caused by damage or change in the cartilage between joints, and the inflammation and pain is a result of the bone surfaces rubbing together. Your pet may show signs of pain, discomfort or stiffness. Luckily, modern medicine can help alleviate the symptoms associated with inflammation and immobility. If your pet has received an arthritis diagnosis from a professional, here are some steps you can take to reduce their everyday discomfort.
Create the Proper Environment
A comfortable environment for your animal can improve the quality of their life if they have arthritis. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
Soft and Supportive Bed
During your pets’ golden years, you want them to rest easy. Memory foam is often recommended to ease the pain of achy joints. Warming beds are also a popular option for arthritic pets, as warmth is great for relieving pain.
Dogs and cats have a tendency to jump on and off furniture. This can put unnecessary strain on their joints, and damage them over time. If your fur friend is prone to jumping off furniture, consider getting a ramp for your couch or bed to prevent further damage.
Make Necessities Easily Accessible
Things like litter boxes, food bowls, and play toys should all be kept on the same level of the house. Stairs can be difficult for senior pets to have to climb on a daily basis. If your pet is a larger breed dog, it may be a good idea to get a platform for their food and water dishes so they don’t have to constantly bend down. Doing this can ease the strain on their neck and shoulders.
Carpet runners are ideal if your house contains wood or tile flooring. As animals get older, the hard floor can be painful for pets. The slick floors can also increase the chances of slipping. Carpets or large area rugs can help older dogs and cats grip the floor when walking, while creating a soft barrier between the hard floor and their paws.
Consider Diet and Supplements
The diet of your pet strongly impacts their overall health, so it’s important to find food or supplements that promote joint health or ease joint pain. Here are a few ingredients and supplements to look for when shopping for your cat or dog:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for promoting overall joint health for your pet, and usually food that is designed for aging animals will contain higher amounts of fatty acids. Fish oil and omega 3 supplements can lessen or even reverse the inflammation that develops from arthritis, while increasing joint mobility. Fatty acids also work well as a preventative measure to developing arthritic issues later on in life.
Also known as Golden Paste, turmeric paste has been known to have therapeutic benefits for animals. Turmeric is a spice that has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It contains circumin, which is a compound that is used to reduce pain and stiffness in pets. Circumin can also slow cell damage from free radicals. If you are curious how to make turmeric paste for yourself, check out this list of recipes.
Also referred to as cannabidiol, CBD is known to have restorative properties including anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory. It is extracted from the leaves and stalks of the hemp plant and is a great option if your pet is currently suffering from pains and achy joints. This non-psychoactive compound provides natural relief to aging cats and dogs as they enter their golden years. Typically, CBD oil is administered with a tincture directly into their favorite pet food. On the other hand, CBD-infused treats are also available on the market.
If you decide to try CBD for your arthritic pet, ensure you do the proper research to find a reputable vendor willing to provide a lab analysis of their product.
Overweight cats and dogs are more likely to have arthritis since strain is put on to their tissues and ligaments. Here are a few tips to help maintain a healthy weight for your pet:
Occasional Walks and Body Work
Sedentary pets more often are likely to develop a weight problem. Try to encourage activity with your animals by playing games or going on short, but frequent walks. Even if your animal has trouble moving, it’s better to encourage some type of physical activity to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
Hydrotherapy is the use of water for treatment, and it has helped countless animals with painful joint conditions. Hydrotherapy is administered by a professional in a warm pool to loosen stiff muscles or reduce joint inflammation. Since there is less impact placed on joints in the water, it can lead to decreased pain levels, while maintaining a healthy level of activity to prevent weight gain.
Massaging an arthritic pet is a natural way to reduce pain levels. It increases the blood flow, reduces the effects of stress and releases endorphins. Pet parents can learn some of the professional techniques used by animal massage therapists to try on their pet at home.
As your pet’s caretaker, you want them to enter their golden years as happy and healthy as they can be. If you are considering trying any of these dietary and lifestyle changes for your animals, consult your veterinarian for advice on the proper treatment plan for your pet.