Arthritis in Dogs: What You Can Do at Home
Caring for your arthritic dog involves paying attention to his comfort.
Joan Hustace Walker
Page 4 of 9
Monitoring Weight and Exercise
Pay attention to your pets weight. The more your pet weighs, the more stress is placed on his joints. More stress equals more pain and more degeneration. This does not mean you should starve, underfeed, or restrict your pets necessary nutrients in any way, though. To help slow the degeneration process, you should make sure your pet is at his optimal weight: not too fat and not too skinny.
Keeping an arthritic pet at an optimal weight can be a challenge. Because of aching joints, your pets regular romping may be severely curtailed. Without frequent exercise, your pet may gain weight more easily. Your veterinarian may suggest feeding your pet a low-fat diet to help compensate for this.
Though your pet may not be particularly thrilled with the idea of exercising his arthritic joints, moderate and gentle exercise is of great benefit. Exercise keeps the joints mobile and strengthens the muscles surrounding the joint, which provides stronger support to the affected area.
The key to exercising your pet is in the words moderate and gentle. Moderate is not taking your dog hunting all day. Gentle is not asking your cat to repeatedly leap or climb to reach a toy. The best form of exercise is swimming. Swimming allows the arthritic joints a full range of motion and builds muscles without putting any weight on the joints. Of course, a daily swim may not be possible for many dog owners (and too stressful for cats and their owners). If you cannot take your pet swimming, then consider low-intensity walks or slow range-of-motion physical therapy. If you have a cat, you may have to be more creative in designing walks or exercise for him, but if your cat tends to follow you from room to room or can be enticed with a tidbit, take advantage of these opportunities.
Next step: Hot and Cold Treatments
Reprinted from The Essential Guide to Natural Pet Care for Dogs & Cats: Arthritis © 1999. Permission granted by BowTie Press.
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