Battersea Q&A: Helping a dog with arthritis
(Q) My 10-year-old Staffie, Dizzy, is in good health, apart from some arthritis in her shoulders. How can I help her improve her mobility and ease the stiffness in her joints?
(A) Battersea canine welfare trainer Nathalie Ingham says: While there’s no cure for arthritis, and Dizzy may need painkilling and anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by your vet, there’s still a lot you can do to help her live a comfortable and active life.
Her arthritis is likely to make Dizzy quite shy of exercising, which could result in a double whammy of weight gain and muscle loss. As well as watching Dizzy’s diet to make sure increased weight doesn’t put extra strain on her joints, you can help her maintain her fitness by making a splash.
Hydrotherapy is excellent for arthritic dogs — as well as those recuperating from operations, injury, or suffering general lameness and stiffness. The warm water is soothing and comforting, and the waterborne activity gentle and therapeutic.
Most dogs love swimming, and I’m sure Dizzy would too. Her condition should be eased, her weight helped by the aquatic exercise, and her general well-being boosted. Talk to your vet, who will assess Dizzy’s suitability for hydrotherapy and can refer you to a centre for a series of sessions.
Back on dry land, you can help Dizzy out too. Her bed should be soft and supportive, preferably an orthopaedic bed specially made for dogs. A portable ramp will make it easier for her to get in and out of the car, and you should avoid strenuous walks and playtime. Many owners give their arthritic dogs health supplements and omega fatty acids (found in fish oil) to lessen inflammation and increase the body’s ability to strengthen and repair tissue.