It’s hard to see our elder pets struggle to perform tasks that were once second nature such as getting into the car. Changes in behaviour like this are one of the first signs that something is not right. A hands-on examination from your local Vet would be a great place to start, and as soon as possible.
Not able to get in the car is just a symptom and can be the result of many underlying causes. Some of the underlying causes of this in a elder pet might be:
- Acute injury affecting the knees, hips, pelvis, spine
- Chronic injury affecting the knees, hips, pelvis, spine i.e arthritis.
In elder pets over six years of age arthritis is very common and often the first sign noticed is a change in how the pet gets into the car. It is reported to affect 1 in every 5 adult dogs. Basically the cartilage and fluid that protects the bones within the joint are damaged, causing pain and a decreased range of motion. Little spurs of bone can grow in these joints causing even more pain.
How can I help my arthritic dog?
Management is multifactorial and involves the following:
- Weight management
If they’re over their optimum weight we need to work on a weight loss program to take load directly off sore joints. This is the single most effective way to help your pet.
- Low impact, regular exercise
Mild to moderate impact. This really depends on the severity of your pets arthritis- a dog with early disease should get more exercise than one who’s severely affected who may only tolerate 5 minutes of slow walking a day. Non-weight bearing exercise such as swimming is great and hydrotherapy using an underwater treadmill supervised by a Veterinary physiotherapist can be an invaluable tool to improve their muscles to support their ailing joints.
- Complimentary therapies
Acupuncture may help your pets arthritis.
- Thick Bedding
Well padded and warm to protect their joints.
- Non-slip matts around the home
Don’t allow your mate to skid on floor boards and cause further damage.
Help reduce the burden of steps by providing gentle ramps. You can also use these to help load your pet into the car.
- Joint supplements
Glucosamine and chondroitin are readily available and promote healthy cartilage. Omega 3 fatty acids are proven to be an effective anti-inflammatory for the joints- present in flaxseed oil , green lipped mussel and you can buy commercial foods for arthritis that have this already supplemented in them.
Polysulfated glycosaminoglycan injections (such as zydax or cartrophen) help protect the cartilage and are very effective in arthritic patients. Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications are also very appropriate when your pet is in pain. Never use over the counter products always use a dog approved product prescribed by your Veterinarian.
Osteoarthritis cannot be cured medically and continues to deteriorate with time but it can be managed to ensure you fur kid can live a comfortable and happy life.