If you have a dog, you should not be surprised if he eventually develops arthritis.
Arthritis among dogs isn’t just common. Past a certain age, it becomes almost ubiquitous.
PetMD even states, “Arthritis will afflict most dogs as they age, especially now that dogs are living longer than ever.
According to this research, around 20% of all adult dogs have osteoarthritis, and around 80% of dogs older than 8 years old are afflicted by the same.
Because arthritis can develop gradually, the first thing to do is to take your pet to the vet if you suspect he may have it to get a proper diagnosis.
Once you know your dog has or likely has arthritis, you can come up with a treatment plan.
In this article, we’ll make recommendations for diet, exercise, supplements and more to help you keep your pet comfortable and functional.
Note that some of these recommendations may also have benefits for dogs that do not already have arthritis. An anti-inflammatory diet can help to prevent joint problems from starting, as can anti-inflammatory supplements.
There is no surefire way to prevent arthritis, but anything you can do to reduce inflammation is a good idea for protecting your pet’s long-term health.
Let’s start out by going over some considerations pertaining to your pet’s diet.
Arthritis is an inflammatory affliction of the joints. So, ideally, your dog’s diet should be anti-inflammatory in nature.
That means moderating inflammatory foods and including more foods and supplements which are anti-inflammatory.
- One thing you can do is give your dog more fresh vegetables which have anti-inflammatory properties. Those which are rich in beta-carotene are a particularly good choice. Some examples of such veggies are carrots and sweet potatoes.
- Watch out for foods that contain sunflower oil, corn oil, and other oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids. These are frequently added to dog food. You’ll need to check the full ingredients lists on dog food packages to make sure you are avoiding them.
- Consider giving your dog kibble which is enriched with certain substances that help to fight inflammation. Some examples of helpful ingredients include Green-lipped mussels, Perna mussels, MSM, omega-3 fatty acids, creatine, duralactin, vitamin C, vitamin D, and CBD.
- Do not feed your dog too many grains.
- Avoid giving your dog processed foods made for humans or anything which contains a lot of sugar. Foods like these tend to promote inflammation, which can make joint problems worse.
- If your dog has arthritic jaws, he will have a difficult time with foods which are chewy or crunchy. Stick with softer foods. On particularly bad days, broth can help your dog get some nutrition without doing any chewing at all. In particular, think about making bone broth a regular part of your pet’s diet.
- Your dog’s intake of fatty meats should be moderated. Lean meats are less likely to worsen symptoms of arthritis.
- Consider feeding your dog more fish. Not only are fish a good alternative to some of the fatty meats which might worsen arthritis symptoms, but they also are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Do not let your dog overeat. Puppy Leaks writes, “65% of all breeds of dogs between 7 and 11 years of age have signs of arthritis. Although arthritis can occur at any age the average of all dogs diagnosed is at 9 years of age. One in three of dogs diagnosed with arthritis is overweight.”
Key Point: You should feed your dog an anti-inflammatory diet to help curb the fires of inflammation which affect your arthritic dog’s joints.
Now let’s talk about exercising a dog that suffers from arthritis.
Ensuring that your dog gets enough exercise if he is already experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of arthritis can be a challenge.
Mobility becomes compromised, and exercise can be more fatiguing.
But it becomes more important than ever. It has the following benefits:
- Maintain the flexibility of tendons and prevent them from shortening.
- Strengthen muscles.
- Keep weight under control.
- Improve health overall.
But that doesn’t mean that every type of workout is appropriate for a dog with arthritis.
- High-impact exercises can be too hard on an arthritic dog’s joints. Exercises that involve jumping or a lot of running, for example, are not an ideal choice.
- Low impact exercises will not stress your dog’s joints unnecessarily, but will provide an opportunity to stay in shape. A couple of good examples of appropriate low impact exercises include walking and swimming.
If possible, your dog should get at least 15 minutes of daily exercise. Half an hour is even better if it is feasible.
Just as you take the time to warm up gradually when doing a workout, your dog should do likewise. This is good advice regardless of your dog’s health, but becomes extra important when your dog has arthritis.
Key Point: Your dog should keep exercising after diagnosis of arthritis. Appropriate, low impact exercises can help keep arthritis symptoms in check and slow progression of the disease.
There are a few furnishings you can buy for your dog to make it easier, safer and more comfortable to move around the house.
Does your pet have a hard time climbing up to the couch to watch TV with you? There are stairs and ramps you can purchase which you can set up next to a couch or bed or chair your dog likes to sit on. Your dog can climb up the stairs or ramp more easily than he can climb or jump straight from the floor up onto your furniture.
You can also use these ramps or steps to help your dog climb into or out of your vehicle.
The other thing you’ll want to pay special attention to when shopping for items to make your pet’s life more comfortable is your dog’s bed.
Arthritic joints require more support than healthy joints.
Your dog will probably prefer a softer bed for this reason which has more cushioning. The more support your dog’s joints have as he rests or sleeps, the less pain he should feel.
It may take a few tries to identify the right bed for your dog, but it will be worth it when you see him getting more sleep and feeling less pain each day.
One more thing which your dog may have trouble with in your home is wood or tile floors.
These flooring materials are easy to slip on, and dogs that have compromised joints may have a harder time maintaining stability, especially if they try to dart across a hard floor.
What can you do about these floors? There are some rooms like your kitchen where carpeting isn’t really an option, but you can try and put down some rugs. Just make sure they are anti-slip rugs that won’t slide around.
Key Point: You can make a few simple adjustments around the home to support your dog with arthritis. A bed that provides proper joint support, some ramps and steps, and anti-slip rugs can make your home safer and more comfortable.
Now let’s talk about supplements which you can give a dog with arthritis.
Basically, they are the same as the supplements which you would take if you had arthritis.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You may take omega-3 fatty acids yourself already if you are trying to fight inflammation in your body. Did you know your dog can take a canine version of this same supplement?
The Arthritis Foundation writes that omega-3 fatty acids, “help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and some studies have shown benefits for heart health, brain function and diabetes.”
As the same range of inflammatory conditions present in humans also involve inflammation in dogs, that means omega-3 fatty acids can provide health benefits for your dog which go beyond arthritis.
When shopping for omega-3 fatty acid supplements for your dog, choose a product which is MSC-certified. This will assure you that there are no harmful chemicals present. Check to make sure it contains no mercury. It can be sourced from fish or algae. The flavor could be fish, or you can find other flavors like liver or bacon which dogs enjoy.
Key Point: Omega-3 fatty acids are good for reducing inflammation in your pet. Consider supplementing with fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids from algae.
Another popular supplement for dogs with arthritis is Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM).
The Arthritis Foundation writes, “MSM is an organic sulfur compound. Sulfur is needed to form connective tissue. MSM also seems to act as an analgesic by lessening nerve impulses that transmit pain.
There isn’t yet a lot of research on MSM and its effects, but initial research suggests that it may improve function and decrease pain in cases of arthritis.
Key Point: MSM is an organic form of sulfur which may have benefits for dogs with arthritis.
Turmeric is a spice which goes into many Indian dishes.
It contains an antioxidant compound called curcumin.
In its concentrated form, curcumin appears to demonstrate a variety of health benefits in research studies.
In particular, its anti-inflammatory compounds are noted to be effective in treating arthritis.
In one study, researchers who tested curcumin against an arthritis medication called diclofenac sodium found that curcumin outperformed the drug.
So, this is another supplement to think about getting for your dog.
Key Point: Turmeric curcumin is an antioxidant which can help to fight inflammation and arthritis. This is another type of supplement which you can purchase for canines.
Another supplement which is getting more and more traction these days for treating arthritis in dogs is CBD oil.
According to PetMD, “Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the use of CBD products to help ease arthritis symptoms in dogs. The research is still in its early stages, but many veterinarians are eager to see if CBD can be a useful tool in battling joint pain in dogs.”
According to this 2015 study on joint pain, “These data indicate that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain‐related behaviours and inflammation without evident side‐effects.”
In another study in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science in 2018, the researchers said, “This pharmacokinetic and clinical study suggests that 2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with OA.”
A 2005 study which was “the first ever controlled trial of a CBM [cannabis-based medicine] in RA [rheumatoid arthritis]” found “significant analgesic effect was observed and disease activity was significantly suppressed following Sativex treatment.” Sativex was a proprietary product containing CBD and THC.
If you decide to give your dog CBD for arthritis, we recommend keeping the following tips in mind when you are shopping:
- Your dog cannot take the same CBD oil product that you might use. With CBD and all other supplements for your dog, you need to shop for products which are specifically formulated for canines. Those made for humans will not contain an appropriate dosage.
- You should not give your dog a product which contains THC in anything more than trace amounts. THC can get your dog high, which is unhealthy.
- Pick a product which was extracted using highly compressed carbon dioxide (CO2). This extraction method does not damage beneficial compounds in the CBD, nor will it introduce unwanted solvents.
- If possible, shop for CBD which is labeled as being “full spectrum.” This type of CBD offers the best phytochemical diversity and the widest range of potential health benefits.
- Some CBD products have flavorings added to them which may appeal to your dog. If you have a finicky dog, one of these products might make it easier to get your dog to take the CBD treatments.
CBD for dogs comes in a number of different forms. Along with liquid tinctures, there are also CBD capsules for dogs and even CBD dog treats.
You might want to try several different types of CBD products to find the form which your pet likes the best.
The trick is finding a high-quality CBD product is to start by identifying a reputable manufacturer.
To help you do that, we have put together a list of recommendations. You can also browse through the articles on our site to learn in-depth about CBD supplements for dogs, how to administer them, and their many potential health benefits.
Key Point: Early research shows a number of possible health benefits of CBD for dogs, especially when it comes to treating arthritis. There are many types of CBD supplements on the market for canines. With tinctures, capsules and treats available, you should be able to find a high-quality CBD supplement that is right for your dog.
CBD and Other Dietary and Lifestyle Changes Can Help Your Dog With Arthritis
Arthritis is among the most widespread health conditions among dogs. The chances that your dog won’t get arthritis are quite low if he survives into old age.
Watching your dog struggle with pain and limited joint mobility can be unpleasant, but you are not helpless against the plight of arthritis.
By following the diet, exercise, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations above, you can provide your dog with the joint support he needs to function at his best.