Exercising an arthritic dog

Exercise can become a bit tricky when your dog has been diagnosed as arthritic. Owners are often concerned about how much exercise to do, and what type of exercise is best. Hopefully these suggestions will help to keep your pet mobile and active for as long as possible, helping them to live a comfortable and happy life.

1. Weight
Keeping your dog’s weight under control is a key part of managing their arthritis. Carrying extra body weight puts joints under extra strain. If you find you are struggling with your pets weight management why not joining our pet slimming world? Appointments take place with a dedicated nurse and are free. Just call on 01437 760111 to book your place.

2. Pain control
Your vet may have prescribed pain relief for your dog as part of their care plan. It may be that your pet needs to have some form of pain relief for the rest of their life. Painful dogs are not likely to want to go for exercise. This can in turn make arthritis worse. Without exercise muscles will waste away, weakening the bodies natural support system for joints . Keeping active will help to preserve muscle mass allowing your dog to keep moving into their old age.

Sometimes owners feel that since there dog is looking better they can stop the medication, often resulting in a flare up of symptoms. Maintaining a suitable level of pain medication can help your dog to feel at their best and able to exercise. Our eventual goal is to reduce the pain relief to the lowest effective dose so as your dog will stay pain free.

We may also suggest alternative methods of pain relief for your pet, including acupuncture, physiotherapy and laser treatments. All of these are offered in our Haverfordwest surgery.

3. Supplements
Just like people, dogs can take supplements to help maintain and support joint function. These are useful as long term aids for joint health. Glucosamine, Chondrotin and Green lipped mussel extract are all used and are available in doggy friendly over the counter preparations.

4. Gentle warm up
Try to resist your dogs urge to tear off down the beach as soon as you arrive. Spending the first 5 to 10 minutes warming up. Check out our website for tips on how to slow lead walk properly!

5. No weekend warriors!
For a lot of us, weekends are the only time we get to enjoy a long walk along the coastal path, around the countryside or up a mountain. Unfortunately this can take its toll on arthritic pets. The phrase ‘weekend warrior’ refers to pets that do a lot of physical exercise over the weekends, whilst spending weekdays doing little activity. Maintaining a constant activity level through the week- say 15 to 30 minutes per day is much better than saving up their walks for the weekend.


6. Introduce new regimes slowly
Starting on any new exercise plan takes time. If your pet hasn’t been seen recently by a vet it is a good idea to book them in for a check up before starting any new work outs! Once they have the all clear, start slowly and gradually build up the length of time that you spend on your chosen activity.

7. Choose low impact exercise
Swimming and leash walks are all low intensity activities that will keep your pet moving. These activities will help keep tendons, ligaments and joints moving in a gentle manner, preventing further injuries, such as strains or sprains. They will also aid with maintaining good blood circulation.

8. Avoid high impact activities
Jumping, ball chasing, hill walking and rough and tumble play can put a lot of strain on joints. Whilst you might not be able to avoid these activities entirely, especially if you own a ball mad Border collie or spaniel, you should try and limit them. This will avoid any unnecessary damage to already achy joints.

9. Cool down and massage
After exercise it is a good idea to spend some time winding down. Massage can be beneficial to help tired muscles and prevent aches and pains from occurring. Check out the practice website for tips on simple massage techniques.

10. Have fun!
Remember exercise should be fun! Try not to be negative and think about what your dog can’t do anymore, instead focus on positives.

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