Friday, February 29, 2008

Caring for your “15-year old Puppy” with Arthritis

You’ve heard of the saying, “you’ll always be my baby”, even though that baby is 40? Well the same goes for your puppy. Your puppy will “always be your puppy”, even when she is 15 years old. And, that is old for a puppy!

Unfortunately, that “15 -year old puppy” just is not as energetic anymore. And, it is very likely that your dog is suffering some type of old age health problem, as we all do when we get to a certain age! Arthritis can occur in dogs as early as age seven.

Arthritis is a very painful condition that affects the joints in your pet’s neck, hips, shoulders, elbows and back. There are some things that you can do to help your dog through this time, and hopefully help ease most of the pain.

Tips to help your dog with arthritis:

*Change your dog’s diet.
Be sure to provide high-quality dog food that contains no added preservatives, food coloring, wheat, corn or soy products. Try to choose a dog food that is low fat. Grains, which usually make up the majority of dog good could increase the inflammation and aggravate arthritis.
An alternative that is much better for your dog is to make your own dog food with cooked or raw meats and vegetables. The vegetables can be anything you have on hand. Celery is an excellent veggie for the joints! AVOID MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS, as these can be TOXIC to your dog. And, CUT ALL VEGETABLES into small pieces or use a food processor for easy digestion.

*Give your dog supplements.
Your dog needs specific supplements that will help to reduce swelling in the joints. You should give your dog a glucosamine tablet. This will help rebuild and maintain cartilage. Another supplement important to your dog’s arthritis is fish oil capsules. He will also need more vitamin E because of the oil.

*Provide a warm and cozy bed for your dog.
Your dog’s bones are achy and likely swollen. It is so important to provide a dog bed specifically for him. There are many dog beds available. Choose a dog bed that is appropriate for the size and weight of your dog. It should be a very soft bed with a lot of soft padding. Your dog will be so grateful just for a soft place to lay, especially on cold and damp days when their joints tend to act up with the weather.

*Reduce extra weight. Extra weight is very hard on dogs with arthritis. Take your dog out for several shorter walks every day. If the park is close by, you could put your dog in a dog stroller, available in many styles and sizes, and then go for a walk in the park. Or how about going swimming with your dog! That is actually a lot of fun! And the water feels great on his joints, and probably yours, too!

*Raise the dog food and water bowl.

*Use a towel soaked in warm water on to your dogs aching joints. Moist heat penetrates deep into his joints. Do not use a heating pad. It may burn him.

*Give him a massage. Massaging the joints brings some relief. However, if your spouse catches you massaging the dog, and not him/her – watch out!

Your dog is just like your baby. No matter how old she gets, she will always be your “baby”. You can still have that energetic dog back. Just follow the steps, especially supplying a dog bed, preferably two you can put in the two rooms she is in the most because they spend most of their lying around. And, you will be able play together, go for walks and even play fetch! Give these tips a try. And most importantly, have some fun with your “baby”.

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