Modifying Activity For Dogs With Arthritis
Once upon a time, it was thought that exercise restriction and limited activity was best for dogs suffering from arthritis. Although overexertion and excessive exercise is not recommended, a lack of exercise may hurt arthritic dogs too. Without the right exercise, arthritic dogs can experience a decline in their functional ability. They will lose muscles, experience stiff joints, and possibly gain weight.
You may need to modify activity for dogs with arthritis while still keeping them moving. Think about it. When humans experience arthritis in hips and knees, they may still participate in aerobics, walking, aquatic exercise, quadriceps strengthening, progressive resistance training, and more. In addition to helping them lose weight, these things can help decrease arthritic pain. Similarly, to manage arthritis in dogs, key components include preservation of joint mobility, muscle strengthening, the right kind of exercise, and more.
How Do You Modify Exercise?
Exercise modification is the best recommendation for arthritic dogs. Remember that rather than being a weekend warrior, proper exercise is something that should be done every day.
The keywords when discussing exercise modification for dogs with arthritis are as follows:
- Controlled – further explained below
- Low impact – see below for more information
- Regular – rather than 20 minutes, see if your dog will tolerate one hour of appropriate exercise per day.
Okay, so you want to start low impact exercise for your arthritic dog but you're not sure how to reduce impact. Here's how to begin:
- Decrease joint force – If you decrease acceleration, it will effectively decrease joint force. This refers to how fast your dog is applying force to a joint. Jumping up and down, running, etc. all qualify as examples of high acceleration and should be avoided. With high-impact activities, you increase the force placed on your dog’s joints. Jumping and running should be discouraged when it comes to dogs with arthritis.
- Reduce mass – Mass refers to the weight of your dog’s body. If possible, help your pup to maintain a lean body condition. This puts less stress and strain on their joints, muscles, and bones.
What is uncontrolled exercise? An example would be letting your dog run wild at the dog park. In this case, they are turning quickly, twisting, jumping, and running – placing force on their joints at an excessive level. Lameness can result when significant force is put on your dog’s joints, particularly if they already suffer from arthritis or an orthopedic disease.
On the other hand, you don't want to decrease your dog's quality of life if they absolutely love to run in the snow, chase after balls and go to the dog park to play. You may want to consider supplements to help your dog experience less joint pain and possibly even improved joint health.
Arthritis Dos and Don'ts For Dogs
For dogs with arthritis, there are certain things they should do and certain things they shouldn't do. If your furry friend has arthritis, it will be good for them to participate in the following activities:
- Freestyle dancing with your dog (yes this is a real thing)
- Take your dog on outings to the coffee shop, the store, etc.
- Scent detection helps keep your dog aware and alert
- Underwater treadmill therapy and/or therapeutic exercise
- Leash walks on terrain of different types
If your dog suffers from arthritis, the following activities are not recommended:
- Jumping to catch a ball or a frisbee
- Excessive agility training
- Going for a run or jog
How to Further Help Dogs with Arthritis
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