Exercise Tips For Your Dog With Arthritis

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We all know how important physical activity is to treat osteoarthritis in humans. But what about our dogs? Dogs can be plagued by arthritis just like us, and they deserve to live long and active lives just as much as we do. 

Arthritis in dogs is not just about aging. If your pet doesn’t have a healthy physical routine, arthritis can start at early stages as well.

Despite physical therapy being shown to be effective in treating osteoarthritis in humans, there is currently no known cure for canine OA. However, NSAIDs like Metacam oral suspension for dogs can help ease pain and manage symptoms. 

The active ingredient here is Meloxicam, which alleviates pain in the joints. These can be used for post-operative soreness and musculoskeletal discomfort as well. Veterinarians even prescribe it for fever-related body pain. Plus, these medicines are easily available and can be applied to your dog’s food or given directly into the mouth.

It is important to keep your dog physically fit and in good shape to prevent arthritis. And if you have a senior dog who has already been diagnosed with it, these exercise tips can help ease the joint pain.

Swimming And Hydrotherapy

Swimming is a good way to exercise your dog if he or she has arthritis or another health problem. The CONVERSATION notes that low-impact exercise like swimming is important to maintain healthy joints and good weight as long as you don’t overdo it. Swimming and underwater treadmill walking help your dog’s joints by reducing pressure while also strengthening muscles and increasing blood flow.

If you don’t have access to a hydrotherapy center, walk your dog through the water. The added resistance will help build muscle and assist with maintaining the proprioception of limbs.

Leash Walks

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, walking is an excellent way for dogs to burn more calories helping with weight loss. You can walk your arthritic furry friend in your neighborhoods or parks. If a dog is not walked often enough, it may become sluggish and inactive. 

A daily walk will keep your dog’s joints mobile and also help maintain a good shape. Obesity can contribute to joint pain and make it difficult for pets to walk, which is why you are advised to take your animals on walks at least twice a day.

Hillwalking

Walking up and down hills can be beneficial to dogs with arthritis because it strengthens muscles, helps maintain balance, and promotes coordination.

According to California Animal Rehabilitation, walking uphill is beneficial for dogs with arthritis in their hips or back legs because it uses the muscles and joints of these limbs that are affected by arthritis. 

When a dog walks up an incline, its hip joint extends, activating the gluteals and hamstring. This, in turn, increases the range of motion of the knee and tarsal joints. Both are important for good mobility.

Stretches For Arthritis

Dogs who suffer from arthritis can struggle to do the things they love, like running around with their friends. But you can do a few easy stretches with your dog to help them feel better. Christina Fuoco, medical director at Philadelphia’s Whole Animal Gym, says that for dogs getting old, stretching can be a great tool to help maintain their mobility.

Some stretches that you can try at home:

Hip Flexor Stretch– Regular practice of this stretch will make it easier for your dog to move around, reduce the pain associated with arthritis, and improve the condition of the spine.

Shoulder Flexor Stretch– It improves the joints and muscles of the shoulder and chest. The pain decreases and helps in breathing as well.

Back Stretch– Just like us, this stretch will make your dog’s spine flexible and ease the pain associated with it.

Sit-To-Stand Exercises

Sit-to-stand exercises are a great way for your dog with arthritis to gain flexibility and strength. They will also help their muscles stay limber, reducing the pain caused by stiffness. You can do this exercise at home or in the park. Just be sure to have a chair or bench ready for when you need it.

Play Sessions

Dog parks are great places to meet other dogs, and they’re also wonderful places for your dog to get some fresh air and exercise. You can take your dog to the dog park multiple times a week. However, it should be noted that some dogs have trouble with their joints after playing fetch or running around in large groups of other dogs. So better if your dog listens to you.

Playing games with your pup is an excellent way for him/her to get extra exercise without putting any undue stress on those sore joints. A few suggestions include tug-o-war, fetching toys from under the couch, chasing light beams from laser pointers (just make sure not to shine them directly into anyone’s eyes), and hide-and-seek inside or outside-the options are endless.

Things To Keep In Mind

You can help your dog with arthritis stay active, but there are a few things you should do to ensure it’s safe.

  • Don’t let your dog get overweight. Obesity puts extra pressure on the body’s joints and makes it harder for dogs to move around. If you’re not sure how much weight your dog should be, ask a vet or trainer for advice.
  • Don’t let your dog get bored. A bored dog might become lazy. Make sure that you have plenty of toys available so that they don’t just lie around all day doing nothing.
  • Don’t overdo it. Always take it easy on your dog, who is already in pain but still doing the hard work. Reward them for their endurance.

All in all, there are so many ways to keep your dog moving. Whether you decide on swimming, walking, or some combination of the options above, rest assured that the health benefits for you and your pup will be well worth it.

 

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