Just like people, older dogs can suffer from stiff joints and arthritis. This can make it hard for them to enjoy their former favorite pastimes, including walking and playing. It can even make it difficult for a dog to lie down. The following advice can help you make your pup more comfortable as they age.
Tip #1: Provide soft reclining areas
When young, dogs stake out their favorite resting places without any thought to eventual aging, and then once they are older and feeling pain, they may become loathe to give up these spots. If your dog tends to lie in cold, hard places, such as in a favorite corner of the kitchen or right outside a bedroom door, try adding some comfort to the spots. Purchase dog beds and place them in your dog's favorite rest areas. Choose beds that come with removable covers so they are easier to keep clean.
Tip #2: Consider adding ramps
For a dog with stiff joints, especially in the hind legs, getting up on the bed or onto a favorite chair can also be difficult. Getting down may be even more painful. There are small ramps or steps you can purchase that are specifically made to help your dog get up and down with no jumping and minimal effort. A few of these placed in key areas can save your dog from a lot of discomfort.
Tip #3: Continue with play time
Exercise helps prevent stiff joints, so don't let your dog become too lazy as they age. Multiple short, slow walks each day help exercise your dog and keep the joints moving without causing too much stress. Slower moving play is also good. For example, don't toss a ball since this may lead to painful jumping. Instead, roll it so your dog can chase and catch it at their own pace.
Tip #4: Schedule a vet appointment
Not all joint pain is equal. Some pain is just a standard byproduct of aging and to be expected. This is the type of pain that exercise and a few aids can help without any other treatment. More problematic is actual arthritis and similar joint conditions, which are caused by damage, swelling, or disintegration of joint tissues. A vet can check to see which type of joint pain is affecting your dog. If the cause is arthritis, then your dog may also benefit from medication or a special diet to help fight the inflammation.
For more help, contact a vet or small animal clinic such as Belaire Animal Hospital.