Exercise and Dogs with Arthritis
If you have a dog with arthritis, it can be heartbreaking to see him or her limp in pain. This is not an uncommon condition either. But there are ways to help your pal live a quality life with this condition.
Does My Dog Have Arthritis?
Only a vet can diagnose if a dog has arthritis. You may suspect your dog may have this condition if she has difficulty getting up or walking. Click to read more on canine arthritis.
Once diagnosed, your vet tell you what the best course of action is for the type and progress of arthritis. Whether surgery or medication is used, if your dog has arthritis, he or she needs a lifestyle that helps bring relief including regular exercise.
Exercise For Arthritis?
What?, you may be saying. My dog has arthritis—he’s joints hurt. Taking him walk is the opposite of what I should do. Maybe it will cause even more damage. Actually, moving around a bit can have the opposite effect. Vet and animal specialists recommend exercise for dogs with arthritis for several reasons.
- To manage weight.
- If you dog is overweight, losing some pounds will provide relief. Excess weight serves to stress the already painful joints causing even more pain and swelling.
- If you dog is at a healthy weight, continuing to exercise will help maintain the weight and as we said, too much weight adds to joint strain and pain of arthritis.
- The more they lie there, the stiffer they become. Exercise helps increase flexibility and endurance and strengthens muscle around the joints.
- Regular exercise use energy and helps your dog sleep better.
- Exercise helps stave off other health problems such heart disease.
- Exercise likewise helps your dog in dealing with the physical pain. It is an activity that is occupying their mind. It’s something to think about other than discomfort.
- Exercise is still fun. And dogs like to have fun, and fun always improves the quality of life.
How to Exercise With Arthritis
A little bit more often is better than a lot once in a while. For instance, two 10-15 minute daily walks are better than one long walk. A short daily walk is much better than a weekly hike. Joints can eventually be aggravated by excessive activity, but there are definite benefits of some activity. Of course, take cues from your dog. If he wants to run a bit, let him run. If he’s ready to rest, stop and rest. Moderation is the goal: not too much, not too little.
Good Exercises for Arthritic Dogs
- Walking – always a favorite. Choose low-intensity, easy routes. No hills, no rough surfaces, no uphill marches.
- Hiking – like walking, make sure you choose easy smooth trails and go for short hikes.
- Swimming – a great sport that is easy on the joints. Warm water, swimming in cold water will just be uncomfortable later.
- Running games – if your dog is fine with it, some low-key running is OK. For instance, you could have a 10-minute game of hide and seek or fetch. Either one involves a lot of breaks and the “running” can be anything from a fast walk to a trot. Some running games include:
- Hide and See
- Agility games – this if fun and challenging if you train just for fun, competition is too intense training for competition. Do the games that are less impact like balance beam, chutes and tunnels, and running around obstacles.
If the weather is cold, keep your dog in. It is not known for sure if cold weather actually makes arthritis worse, but it can make the joints feel worse.
Arthritis does not have to be the end of your dog’s world. Always check with a vet first, but with care and some changes in lifestyle, both you and your pup can get relief.