Arthritis in Dogs: What You Can Do at Home
Caring for your arthritic dog involves paying attention to his comfort.
Joan Hustace Walker
Page 5 of 9
Hot and Cold Treatments
Heat is effective and comforting treatment for pets who suffer from arthritis for a long period of time. If your pets joints are painful and swollen most of the time (not just from flare-ups), heat therapy will allow you to relieve pain, increase blood circulation to the joint and surrounding muscles, and relax muscle spasms. A hot-water bottle wrapped in a towel is good for many large dogs; a lighter, smaller version would be more appropriate for a small dog or a cat.
If your pet is a new sufferer of arthritis (within a year) and has acute swelling in a joint, he may benefit from the application of an occasional cold pack to the affected joint. Be careful with applying a cold pack since a little bit of cold goes a long way. In fact, five minutes of application should be plenty. Anything beyond five minutes might produce negative effects by decreasing the blood circulation to the joint and even perhaps damaging tissues. A good method for making sure you don't accidentally overdo your cold application is to use a sealed freezer bag of frozen corn or peas. The little vegetables are easier to apply than a brick of ice, they are lightweight, and they thaw before they create any problems for your pet. If you are making home-prepared meals for your pet,you might chop up vegetables that are to be included in your pets daily meals and freeze them in bags for this purpose.
If your pet protests either the hot or cold treatments, don't force the issue.
Next step: Massage
Reprinted from The Essential Guide to Natural Pet Care for Dogs & Cats: Arthritis © 1999. Permission granted by BowTie Press.
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