As your pet ages, providing effective care becomes more and more complex. Just like humans, animals experience a variety of issues and conditions associated with the aging of their bodies. Although the aging process is already a bit confusing for pet owners, it becomes especially so when your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis. If you’ve begun to suspect that your pet is experiencing unusually difficult symptoms of aging, it may be time to consider the possibility of arthritis. The ASPCA lists the following as common symptoms of arthritis in pets:
- Stiff walking
- Limping or an apparent favoring of certain limbs
- An apparent discomfort or stiffness upon moving
- Reluctance to jump, climb, or run
- Apparent pain when certain areas are touched
- Loss of joint flexibility
- Discomfort in certain positions
- Limpness in certain limbs
To receive a proper diagnosis, you must take your pet to the vet for examination. The vet will perform a physical and administer a series of diagnostic tests to determine a cause for your pet’s pain. Should your pet be diagnosed with arthritis, your next step will be to create a routine for ongoing care to keep them as comfortable and capable as possible.
Tips for Care and Understanding
The diagnosis of arthritis calls for increased focus in your current pet care routine. Although the need for additional attention may seem a bit daunting at first, providing sufficient care becomes easier as you become accustomed to your routine. To help you create a plan to facilitate successful treatment and improved quality of life for your pet, we’ve compiled a list of tips on care and understanding for caregivers. Gather some helpful insights and guidelines below, then work closely with your vet to create a plan for optimal care of your pet.
1. Discuss Pet Vitamin Options
Maintaining proper levels of essential vitamins and minerals in your pet’s system will help their body fight the effects of arthritis. Virginia Chavez-Nelson writes in the She Knows blog that certain daily supplements can help loosen the joints and ease arthritic pain. She also notes that it is important to remain patient as these supplements may take a few weeks to produce results.
2. Monitor Weight and Activity
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight will be important as they struggle with the joint pain of arthritis. By reducing the amount of weight resting on your pet’s joints, you help to reduce their discomfort. Discuss your pet’s options for activity and nutrition with your vet. Once you’ve created a plan for safe and effective exercise and nutrition, stick to it to keep excessive weight off of your pet’s joints.
3. Consider Natural Anti-Inflammatories
The Whole Dog Journal suggests the implementation of natural anti-inflammatories in your pet’s care routine. Some of these include fish oil caps, vitamin E, vitamin C, bromelain, and certain herbs. Discuss your options with your vet to create a safe and effective dose for your pet.
4. Look Into Natural Therapies
Natural therapies such as massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, and chiropractic treatments can serve as an excellent complement to your pet’s arthritis care routine. Massage therapy can be learned and conducted on your own. Professionals in the other therapies can help you create a plan for consistent treatment to yield positive results.
5. Keep Them Warm and Comfy
Humans with arthritis experience worsened symptoms when they’re cold. Keeping your pet warm and comfortable will help keep their symptoms manageable. Make sure that your home stays at a reasonable temperature and create comfortable spots for your pet to rest and sleep. You may consider heated beds as well as sweaters for colder months.
6. Facilitate Mobility
Your pet’s ability to move freely will be limited as they experience symptoms of arthritis. PetEducation.com suggests providing helpful items like stepping stools and ramps. These will make it easier for them to maintain their independence. It will also help them avoid joint injury from excessive stress of jumping and climbing from taller areas.
7. Follow Your Vet’s Treatment Closely
You’ll notice the recurring theme of “discuss your options with your vet” throughout these tips. This is because it’s important to keep your care consistent and cohesive with your vet’s provided care. Stick to your routine and be sure to work closely with your vet to create a well-rounded care plan.
Hopefully the tips and information in this article will help you provide the highest possible level of care for your pet with arthritis. If you’ve yet to visit your vet for diagnosis and treatment, it’s important that you find a trusted care provider and schedule your appointment as soon as possible. We suggest checking with your friends and family for references. If your search comes up dry through these sources, online tools like WebVet.com can also help you locate vets near you.