Is Your Old Dog Limping and in Pain? Here’s How You Can Care for Them
Perhaps one of the saddest moments that all dog owners face is the realization that their pet is getting old. For many people, dogs are as loved and precious as another member of a family.
It is thus heartbreaking to see them slow down, have difficulty climbing stairs, and show other signs of weakness and chronic pain. Unfortunately, many breeds are known to be prone to certain health issues during old age.
Take, for instance, the much-loved Golden and Labrador Retriever breeds. Issues like hip dysplasia are sadly all too common when they reach their twilight years. As their caretakers, it is only fair that we try to make their lives as comfortable as possible now. Let’s learn how in this article.
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1. Rule Out Other Factors First
Before you go about thinking your dog has osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, or hip dysplasia, you want to rule out other factors. There are several other possible causes that could be at play. It could be something as simple as a muscle strain or sprain. This can be easy to trigger if you have not been adjusting activity levels with age.
Perhaps you took your dog for a long walk or engaged in some particularly rough play that was normal a few years ago? That could trigger it. At the same time, it could also be something a little more serious, like Lyme disease, which is caused by ticks. The symptoms often include weakness or lameness in the joints as well as swollen lymph nodes.
It’s relatively easy to check for these symptoms, but you are better off getting the opinion of your veterinarian. They can confirm and identify, in clear terms, the source of your dog’s pain.
Failing to rule out other factors puts you under a lot of unnecessary stress. It can also cause you to prioritize the wrong treatments, which can end up wasting time. In some cases, you might even make the situation worse. Thus, speak to your vet and schedule a checkup as early as you can.
2. Start on Weight Management Immediately
Often, pain and difficulty with movement are closely related to body weight. Unfortunately, a lot of pet owners unknowingly overfeed their dogs beyond the recommended amount. It’s really tough to deny your dog when they look at their empty bowl and ask for more.
As a result, obesity is a far more prevalent problem than you think. Normally, regular visits to the vet would make you aware of this. However, many owners choose to only visit when a problem arises.
If your vet determines that weight loss is in order, you will need to start being disciplined with your dog’s diet. This means no free snacks or treats above the predetermined amount. Yes, your dog might initially whine and make a fuss but don’t give in. After all, this is for their own health.
You will have to focus on senior-specific nutrition and, if needed, add joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin as recommended by your vet.
3. Make Use of Anti-inflammatory Ingredients and Medication
Inflammation is one of the most common reasons that your elderly dog might be experiencing pain. It is also the number-one symptom that accompanies conditions like osteoarthritis. The muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues can inflame, and this is what causes your dog to feel pain and limp.
Your vet may prescribe medication to deal with this. Galliprant for dogs is one popular anti-inflammatory medication that you can try. The good news is that most dogs on such medicines experience a marked reduction in pain. Thus, if inflammation is the primary concern, this should do the trick.
According to PetCareRx, Galliprant is usually administered orally as a chewable tablet, and your vet will recommend an appropriate dose. That said, you aren’t just limited to medication. Vets might also recommend that you include anti-inflammatory ingredients in your dog’s food.
These ingredients can range from omega-3 fatty acids to turmeric, ginger, green-lipped mussels, bromelain, rosemary, and more. These act as natural remedies and also lower the risk of possible side effects.
4. Tone Down The Long Walks and Rough Play
Even in their old age, you will be surprised at how active many dogs can be. Despite their pain, they will still try their best to play and be the same spritely dogs they were in their youth. That is, of course, until it becomes too painful for them.
For the sake of your dog’s well-being, don’t let it come to that stage. Instead, pay more attention to their behavior and watch for signs of weakness. These symptoms typically show up in their increased desire for breaks, hesitation or even refusal to climb stairs, etc.
This should be your cue to start moderating exercise. Remember, you don’t need to simply stop walking or exercising your dogs. You mainly want to ensure that their activity levels match their abilities. This might mean a walk with two to three breaks instead of just one. It could also mean avoiding paths with a steep incline.
Simple steps like these can go a long way in ensuring you aren’t making the situation worse. Remember, besides a few procedures like hip replacement surgery, there isn’t really much you can do for an old dog besides treating symptoms, such as focusing on the control of pain. Surgery is also risky and also brings its own risks.
Thus, the most realistic option is to ensure that you help your dog maintain its current strength and mobility.
To summarize, as pet owners, we need to come to terms with reality. Yes, all the steps outlined in this article will surely help make your dog comfortable. There’s no denying that. However, barring new scientific breakthroughs, there isn’t much we can do to reverse these health issues.
These things mostly happen towards the final leg of a dog’s life. Thus, it’s always a good idea to mentally prepare and be ready for anything.