“Managing” osteoarthritis in dogs is something that causes a lot of problems for most dog owners. Because osteoarthritis can really be an “ass”. Even if this is not really technically and factually formulated. Osteoarthritis is often recognized late and the lameness is often diffuse – sometimes the dog is lame and sometimes not. And the dog owner completely confused about what is best to do.
Should the dog be spared or just not? What to do when the dog limps sometimes and then again not for weeks. What is the reason and what can be done? I will give you answers to these questions in the article. It is not possible to formulate a clear and unified solution to all points, but I can give you some direction to better deal with your dog’s arthritis.
First we look at how a joint works dog has osteoarthritis
Even though there are different joint shapes and types, all joints have in common that they need movement to ensure the nutrition of the cartilage. This is because the nutrients that the cartilage needs enter the cartilage with a pumping motion via the synovial fluid. This pumping motion is triggered by the movement of the joint. You can imagine this like a sponge being squeezed.
If we do not exercise our dog because we are completely sparing him, we also restrict the nutrition of the joint cartilage. The arthrosis continues to progress. The opposite of what we actually want.
In addition, however, the consistency of the synovial fluid changes. It is no longer supple, but becomes tough. Due to the limited mobility, your dog also loses muscle and ligaments and tendons are also affected. Your dog is in a vicious cycle. With the loss of the musculature, the load on the joint increases again during movement and, as a result, wear and tear. Your dog is in pain and taking it easy. In return, the other runs are loaded more. As a result, arthrosis and muscular tension can now also develop in other areas of the body that are now overloaded. A rat’s tail of consequences that a “small” arthrosis can entail. Thus, it should be clear that total sparing cannot be the solution for a dog suffering from osteoarthritis.
The solution: The golden mean is right – and what does that look like?!
This includes that the dog should not be completely spared, but also should not be overloaded. In addition, it depends on the type of movement. This all sounds very woolly now. But a generalized statement about this can not be made, because each dog is individual.
Walks with dogs suffering from osteoarthritis
How to organize walks with a dog suffering from osteoarthritis is a very central issue, because for our dogs regular walks are simply important.
My advice is to make your walks with your dog shorter and if possible keep him from going into lameness. That is, before he shows discomfort, you should be back home. If your dog is lame, he puts more strain on the other joints, which can lead to tension and arthritis in other joints. But you can do more frequent walks. As an example, instead of 2 big rounds of one hour, you could walk your dog 3-4 times for 20-30 minutes instead.
The shorter walks also shorten your dog’s recovery time and the joint stress is not as intense. The length of the walks should be adjusted individually to your dog and in such a way that it is avoided that he starts to limp. So adapted movement is the magic word here.
Even if your dog has a limp, there’s no stopping his urge to move?
Sure, because a dog has no reasoning. This means that we have to do this for our dog. He doesn’t think to himself,” Oh, but today my knee joint is pulling again, I should take it easy!”. So be reasonable for your dog. If he has an unbroken urge to move, then keep him busy elsewhere. Head work is a very good compensation and also makes tired.
Pain management in the fight against osteoarthritis
Pain management in dogs is a very broad topic and would go beyond the scope of this article. What is important to me, however, is that your dog should not suffer any pain. Item. There is nothing to shake about that and nothing to discuss.
I know that many dog owners often hesitate for a long time before giving their dog pain medication. The argument here is the burden on the organs during the metabolism of the drug. But if we now put ourselves in our place, the question arises whether we would be willing to walk around with a permanent joint pain and how this pain affects our everyday life. This comparison can certainly be used, since we know that dogs feel pain the same way we humans do.
Accordingly, it can also be said that pain reduces the quality of life of the dog. Moreover, it has dramatic consequences when a pain becomes chronic and thus becomes a disease itself.
How to manage pain must be decided individually for the dog. Whether to rely on conservative pain medication, nutritional supplement support, or even a combination of both should be decided on a case-by-case basis.
In addition, there are also from dog physiotherapy many therapeutic measures that can be used specifically to relieve pain, such as laser therapy, acupuncture, electrotherapy, etc….
The goal: to promote and maintain joint mobility, strengthen the muscles and train a healthy gait pattern
It is essential for a joint affected by osteoarthritis that we mobilize it again. This is the only way to stop the progression of osteoarthritis. You achieve this with movement training. Just like you do in human physiotherapy. Various regularly performed movements help to increase the range of motion of the joint, promote musculature and restore the dog’s confidence in running. This is the only way to make it fully chargeable again.
This is another part of arthritis management that you, as the dog owner, can take on yourself with proper guidance. If you want to learn more about this and support your dog with osteoarthritis, I highly recommend my online Arthrosfit self-learning course for dog owners. There you will learn specific exercises for your dog to keep him in motion during arthritis and also receive a lot of valuable information about sensible arthritis management in dogs and comprehensive instructions for accompanying measures.
As you can see, keeping osteoarthritis in dogs in check and dealing with it in everyday life requires various measures that interlock and complement each other.
Many of these measures you can actively influence yourself and adopt as a dog owner.