Arthritis in dogs

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Dear Paws:  My mixed-breed dog “Artie” was recently diagnosed with age-related arthritis. He has to take a pain pill every day, but he still walks stiffly. Is there any other way I can help him? – Bill in Tulsa, Okla.

Dear Bill:  Talk to Artie’s vet to make sure the medication he’s been given is helping with his joint pain and stiffness.

Yes, there are several things you can do at home to help make his life more comfortable. Get him a new, nicely padded doggie bed and place it away from cold drafts or air-conditioning vents. Consider taking him to a pet massage therapist–and when you do, ask the therapist for massage techniques you can use on Artie at home, between sessions. Daily massage increases blood flow to the joints and can help relieve stiffness.

Feed Artie a good diet. If he has a weight problem, work with his veterinarian to put together a diet that will help slim him down without depriving him of important nutrients. Consider adding supplements to his diet such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which may help lubricate joints and ease arthritis stiffness. Again, the vet can recommend the best supplement and dose for your dog.

Exercise is very important for dogs suffering from arthritis, but some movement can be difficult. If Artie has trouble getting down the steps outside, consider installing a ramp along the side of the stairs or in another spot so he can walk down more easily. The amount of exercise Artie should get depends on how advanced his condition is, his age, and other health factors–and of course, on how much exercise Artie wants to get.

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