It happens to us all - as we get older we slow down and can no longer be as effervescent as we were in our younger days!
Older dogs do slow down and sometimes have difficulty getting up and down and may be a bit stiff when they first start moving. Just because a dog isn't yelping, it doesn't mean it isn't struggling with joints that are no longer as supple or pain free as they once were.
It is thought that 80% of dogs over 8 years old will suffer from Osteoarthritis. It's an extremely common condition and one that is often not recognised or appreciated due to the stoic nature of our doggy companions.
Most dogs will suffer in silence with chronic joint pain but once you can see your pet is no longer as mobile as they used to be, there are lots of things you can do to make their senior years more comfortable
1. Weight Loss: The most important thing you can do is keep your dog at a healthy weight.Being overweight or even just a few kilograms heavier than ideal has a big impact on the health of your pet's joints.In many cases weight loss can have as big an impact of your pet's mobility than surgery or pain relief medication.
2. Adapt the home environment: A more cushioned or padded bed, rugs on the floor, home made ramps up steps and limiting access to stairs are all easy things to do to make life easier.
3.Exercise modification: Just because your dog still has a mad 5 minutes in the park it doesn't mean it is suddenly pain free. Most dogs will still get excited, they are just not great about self awareness and the consequences of throwing themselves around! Maintaining exercise is really important but we need to step in to avoid the older dog for hurting itself or over doing it.
4.Alternative Therapies: Acupuncture, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, ultrasound treatment etc can all help and offer a non medicative option to help many old age aches and pains.
5: Veterinary Interventions: Anti-inflammatories, analgesics, surgery and even stem cell therapy are all options for older pets when the time comes. There is a long list of treatment options that can be tailored to a dog's needs and make sure that the senior years of your pet's life are not blighted by arthritic pain so make sure you talk to your vet when the time comes to find the solutions that are right for you.