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Can Dogs with Arthritis be Happy??

Unfortunately arthritis can affect any dog of any shape and size – particularly those that have had to have joint surgery in the past. As in people, it’s not a process that can be cured or modified but with the right advice and guidance it is something that a physiotherapist can help you manage for your dog in the long-term. Part of the work we do helps towards improving awareness that arthritis is not an inevitable part of your dog’s life and it isn’t a natural ageing process. Once your furry friend has been diagnosed with arthritis though, it does take a lifelong commitment to ensure that they have the best possible quality of life that they can.

The first part of managing this condition is controlling pain – this will happen through a discussion with your vet. They will advise you on the medication most appropriate for the condition and most suitable for your individual dog. Adequate pain relief is also important when starting physiotherapy as it will help your dog get the most out of the assessment without feeling too sore afterwards. Please make sure that you take details of any medication along to your first consultation so that the physiotherapist is aware and can factor it into their findings.

Diet and dietary supplements can also be an important part of managing this condition long-term. Again consultation with your vet is essential here as they will be able to advise you what they feel is most suitable for your dog based on its health, weight, activity levels etc. For anyone interested in reading up on arthritis (I know some people are!), there is evidence to suggest that if your dog is over-weight, helping it to lose weight can help to improve clinical signs associated with the disease.

Just altering diet alone though really isn’t the answer. Ideally the long-term management plan for your dog will also include a physiotherapy programme that may consist of massage, passive range of motion exercises, stretches, hot and cold therapy, proprioceptive exercises and importantly owner education around grading leash walking. Hydrotherapy can also be extremely beneficial in arthritis cases. It can provide a really nice environment for your dog to exercise without the stresses and strains on the joints that comes with land based exercise. Whether your dog is most suited to the water treadmill or swimming pool will be determined by your physiotherapist and hydrotherapist together.

A diagnosis of arthritis can seem all doom and gloom initially, but please be reassured that keeping your dog comfortable and with a good quality of life is paramount to any professional that your dog sees. There are lots that can be done for your dog and lots of resources to help you as an owner cope with it too. If you feel that you need any further help, advice or support around arthritis please contact us, we’re always happy to help!