• Cuyamaca Animal Hospital

Cuyamaca Animal Hospital’s Recommendations for Dog or Cat Arthritis

As you watch your furry companions grow older, you’ll begin to notice natural changes: they’re not as swift as they once were, or as eager to play. When your dog suffers from arthritis, however, these changes can become even more painful to observe. Knowing that even the slightest movement is a struggle for a cherished pet can make you feel helpless. Unfortunately, arthritis is a common condition in older pets (and even some younger pets, too).



Thanks to advancements in veterinary technology, an Osteoarthritis (OA) diagnosis doesn’t mean your pup can no longer enjoy life. In fact, Cuyamaca Animal Hospital treats many arthritic patients who are living healthy and happy lives. With the right treatments and lifestyle adjustments, you can offer your arthritic pet the quality of life he or she deserves.


Here is what we recommend when taking care of your arthritic pet:


​1. Give Your Dog’s Body Extra T.L.C. (Including Exercise)

It may seem tempting to decrease your dog’s exercise as mobility seems painful to him, and maybe you have to a bit, but maintaining your pet’s physical health as much as possible can only help. Low-impact exercise is recommended for most arthritic patients because it helps maintain muscle mass and range of motion for the joints. Low-impact exercises include short to medium-length walks—even if that means a simple walk around the block at his or her own pace!


Swimming is an excellent option for mild to severe arthritis as the water will support most of their weight and will offer gentle movement (we recommend K-9 Aquatics here in Santee). Swimming can help support muscle strength, circulate blood to his joints, and keep his ligaments flexible. Alongside regular and brief episodes of exercise, we also recommend muscle massages to stimulate blood flow. Of course, you should look for a certified canine massage therapist rather than take his muscles into your own hands… your pup will thank you for it!


2. Maintain a Lean and Healthy Diet

At any stage in your pet’s arthritis, it is extremely important to maintain a lean body condition. Any extra weight on his joints will contribute to the progression and pain of arthritis. Additionally, any dogs who are kept lean typically live 2 years longer than other dogs and tend to develop arthritis later than dogs who are overweight or obese.

How to keep your dog’s diet lean? For starters, “eat smart, not less” is a great rule for both humans and pets! Adding raw foods, like vegetables (green beans, carrots, etc.), to his diet is an excellent and low-calorie way to give him the nutrients he needs while cutting out the unnecessary fats. White meats like chicken, turkey, and fish are better options than red meats for your arthritic pet, as they will offer fewer fats and more omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.


You should also consider adding more cooked vegetables for yummy and healthy treats. Cartilage-rich and organic bone broth is another great way to keep his diet lean. Regardless of any diet alternatives that are right for you and your pup’s lifestyle, just make sure his food has the least amount of carbohydrates and sugars possible—these additives only serve to inflame his muscles and joints, and negatively impact his metabolism. Our online store has great food options for those looking for quality food for their arthritic pooch!




3. Treat Dog Arthritis with the Right Supplements

It’s important to remember why they’re called supplements: they aren’t medications and should only be used to supplement his diet and pre-existing treatment plan. Still, natural supplements can help support his diet and give him the needed boost to support his joint health. There are countless supplements to support joint health on the market today, and we want to make sure you can identify the right ones to give your pet:

  • Fish oils: omega-3 fatty acids have long been touted to have anti-inflammatory properties and countless other nutritional benefits including organ and cognitive functions.

  • Glucosamine with Chondroitin: ​Glucosamine is an especially popular supplement to treat arthritis in both humans and pets. As a nutraceutical, it can help alleviate pain and even ease and repair damaged joints and cartilage. We recommend brands like Cosequin, which uses a combination of Glucosamine and Chondroitin to protect his or her joint and cartilage health.

  • CBD for Pets: Although research around CBD oil has been scant, many pet parents have provided anecdotal claims to suggest that CBD has been a great alternative to treat a wide variety of conditions in their pets. Check out our recent blog post to see if pet CBD is a good option for your pet!



4. Talk to Your Veterinarian About Medications

When exercise, diet, and nutraceuticals are not enough to control your pet’s pain, talk to your veterinarian about NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). In milder cases of arthritis, NSAIDs can be helpful on an intermittent basis. Otherwise, we recommend tapering his medications to the lowest dose possible to keep your pup comfortable.

When administering NSAIDs on a long-term basis, we always recommend first conducting bloodwork. Your dog’s liver and kidneys should be working properly, as NSAIDs can worsen pre-existing liver and kidney disease. Once your dog is on NSAIDs for 3 weeks, you should repeat bloodwork to make sure he is tolerating his medications well. We can help you with that here in our clinic (just give us a call to schedule your appointment at 619-448-0707).




5. Explore Alternative Therapies with Your Vet

Even still, there are many other options to treat and prevent the progression of arthritis:

  • Cold laser therapy: Cold laser therapy uses light to promote cell regeneration and blood circulation. Because it’s a noninvasive treatment, dogs often find the process relaxing and enjoyable! Talk to your veterinarian to see if cold laser therapy is an efficient option for your pet.

  • Physical therapy: As we mentioned before, keeping up your dog’s physical exercise is essential no matter what his condition. Sometimes, however, inviting a certified canine physical therapist into his routine can work wonders in treating his arthritis. Canine rehabilitation can include massage, stretching, underwater treadmills, swimming, and more. Your physical therapist can also educate patients on best practices at home.

  • Acupuncture: As is the case with humans, acupuncture can treat multiple conditions in pets. By inserting needles close to the nerves, acupuncture stimulates blood flow and decreases pain signals sent throughout the body. Our amazing veterinarians, Dr. Hyatt and Dr. Cotter, offer acupuncture services with wonderful results.


At Cuyamaca Animal Hospital, we not only believe in educating our clients about their pets’ conditions, but we also believe in exploring options outside the scope of pharmaceuticals. That’s why we’re proud to offer services like acupuncture for animals, which we have seen particularly useful for treating arthritis and chronic pain, particularly in senior pets.


If your pet suffers from arthritis, we can help. We dedicate ourselves to providing safe and effective pain management to everyone we see, and we can also help you recognize signs of pain at home. Talk to us today to explore the different options to treat your pet’s arthritis and any other pain management needs at (619) 448-0707.

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