6 Ways to Help Keep Your Dog’s Joints Healthy
Whether we like it or not, we all know that as we age, things that were once easy become more difficult. Walking, running, reaching and even sitting can be painful. It’s the same story for our canine companions—except that they can’t talk about it like we can! Despite advances in technology and medicine, we cannot reverse the effects of aging. What we can do is help maintain our dogs’ joint health for as long as possible. Here are six ways to help keep your dog his enthusiastic, exuberant self.
1. Start from the ground up
If, like most dogs, yours spends most of her time at home, think about installing non-skid flooring or placing a rug on a smooth floor. A dog’s paws may be textured, but slippery surfaces like laminate flooring can be difficult for dogs to navigate—especially if they’re in a hurry to get a tasty treat.
2. Ramp it up
If you have a smaller dog that can’t quite get up onto the bed or couch, consider installing a carpeted ramp for easy access to cuddles. Unlike cats, which can gracefully leap from one piece of furniture to another, dogs can be less agile. A ramp can also be useful to help your dog get in and out of the car.
3. Keep it moving, people
Joint pain can turn into arthritis faster if your dog doesn’t get regular exercise. While you should always let sleeping dogs lie, if your dog stays lying down for too long his muscles can stiffen up. And long term, he could put on weight that puts extra stress on joints. To cut a long story short, gentle exercise is as important for dogs as it is for us humans.
If regular exercise, like running or walking, seems too strenuous for your dog, why not try a dog pool or underwater treadmill? A 15 to 20 minute session in the water is the equivalent of a run, but without the negative impact on joints. Many veterinarians and animal physical therapists have these facilities or have access to them.
4. Get cozy
Make sure your furry friend has a well-padded bed that’s away from cold or damp drafts. If your dog’s fur is thinner, it might be a good idea to get a heated bed.
5. Pamper your pup
Ever woken from a deep sleep and your joints are so stiff that it takes a few minutes to crawl out of bed? The same can be true for dogs, since their joints can stiffen after naps. Giving your dog a short massage could help him to limber up better.
6. Maintain a lean body weight
One of the best ways to keep a dog’s joints healthy is by ensuring your dog maintains a lean body weight. Consult with your vet on how to best maintain your dog’s weight.
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