DOES YOUR GREYHOUND HAVE ARTHRITIS?
The cold weather can affect people and dogs alike. If your older Greyhound is suddenly having difficulty in rising, or difficulty with stairs, he could be experiencing the pain of arthritis. The colder weather can result in decreased activity, causing joint stiffness. In addition to pain, other symptoms of canine arthritis are limping, loss of interest in playing or walking, snapping when being petted, a sudden change in personality and licking the affected joints.
Arthritis is a common problem in older dogs, occurring as a result of ongoing wear and tear and instability in the joints. Factors affecting the progression of arthritis include injury, chronic inflammation, genetic makeup, infection, immune diseases and cancer. Your veterinarian can determine for sure if your hound does have arthritis, or if their behavior changes are due to something else. No matter what has caused the arthritis in your pup, here are some strategies to help them be more comfortable.
GO FOR A WALK
Exercising an arthritic dog is difficult, but it is so important. While too much exercise can cause pain in the joints, lack of physical activity can make the condition worse. I had a physical therapist who told me “Motion is the Lotion!” and it’s true for our dogs too. A low-impact walk, a few times a day, will help get those joints moving. It will keep your dog’s muscles strong, as well as improving circulation to those achy joints. One of the best exercises for dogs of all ages is walking.
When it’s cold outside, protect your Greyhound like you do yourself – that means coats/sweaters and maybe even booties, or traction socks.
MASSAGE THOSE JOINTS
A nice massage from time to time is also beneficial for an arthritic dog. Massage helps increase the circulation to the painful joints as well as improving your dog’s flexibility. Use gentle, circular strokes to massage your dog’s joints and muscles. Also use long gentle strokes to push blood toward your dog’s heart. Massage gets blood flowing to the arthritic area and can reduce pain and stiffness for several hours. It also relaxes your canine friend and increases the sense of well-being. You can always ask your veterinarian for a recommendation to a professional animal massage therapist. Many therapists are even willing to demonstrate massage techniques to owners.
Arthritis pain can be alleviated with hot and cold treatment. Usually, apply heat before long walks, travel or exercise and apply a cold therapy AFTER the long walk, travel or exercise. Think: Warm-warms up muscles and Cold-cools inflammation.
A dog’s arthritis can feel a lot better after a 15 minute round of heat therapy. Using your heating pad on LOW, sit with your dog and lay the pad on top of his arthritic spots. Don’t let your dog lay on the pad though as it could get too hot. Put your hand between the pad and your dog regularly to check the temperature. It should just be warm, not hot. If you don’t have a heating pad, you can microwave a damp hand towel, put it in a zip top bag. It should stay warm for 10-15 minutes.
For a cold treatment, you can freeze a damp hand towel in a zip top bag. Put a towel between your dog and the frozen one, and don’t leave on for more than 10-15 minutes.
KEEP NAILS TRIMMED
If you can hear clicking when your dog is on a hard floor surface, their nails are too long. Too-long toenails can make your dog distribute his weight in a way that aggravates the arthritis. Many people use a Dremel tool instead of clipping nails at home, but I confess, I always have someone do their nails for me!
ORTHOPEDIC DOG BED
Chances are, you already have more than one dog bed in your house. We know our bony hounds appreciate a cushy surface to sleep on. Perhaps consider a memory foam or orthopedic bed next time one needs to be replaced. Your pup will thank you for that. If it’s really cold at night, a warm blanket or jammies would be welcome too!
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Luckily, this is not usually a problem for Greyhounds. In fact, sometimes we have trouble keeping weight on older hounds.
FOODS THAT HELP
Some foods that you could add to your Greyhound’s diet are small oily fish, like sardines, mackerel, or salmon. The Omega-3 fatty acids help fight inflammation. Add some to their morning meal each day.
A little cooked sweet potato adds an anti-oxidant boost, and most dogs love the taste (plain boiled or baked, no added butter, etc.) and it’s easily digestible. Anti-oxidants help fight inflammation too. You can find lists of other anti-oxidant foods for dogs online.
Add a little raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to your dog’s drinking water. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, apple cider vinegar helps relieve pain and inflammation. Gradually increase the dosage to the amount suitable for your dog and as your dog tolerates the taste. You can give up to 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a small dog, up to 2 teaspoons to medium sized dog and up to 2 tablespoons to a large dog daily. Another option is to add apple cider vinegar to your dog’s food.
There are many dietary supplements that you can consider giving to your pet to ease arthritis pain and improve flexibility. Some recommended supplements include:
Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce pain as a result of reduced joint inflammation.
Glucosamine and chondroitin, which are very effective joint supplements that help joints make new cartilage and repair the damage in an arthritic joint.
Green-lipped mussel extract (GLME), a cartilage-repairing supplement specifically designed for pets.
Vitamin C and E supplements, major anti-oxidants.
There are many more – see this article for a review of the 2020 Best Dog Joint Supplements DogsDIY
When giving a supplement, always work with your veterinarian to determine which joint supplements are best for your pet. It is also important to follow your vet’s advice on how to give a supplement for best results.
Take your dog for regular checkups so your veterinarian can monitor the arthritis and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. Disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs can help a lot in managing arthritis symptoms in dogs.
Acupuncture can also help with managing arthritis pain in our hounds. It enhances blood circulation which improves healing ability. Acupuncture also stimulates the nervous system and increases the release of anti-inflammatory and pain relieving substances to reduce a dog’s discomfort.
Similar to acupuncture, another technique called acupressure, which involves applying pressure to acupuncture points rather than inserting a needle, is another option. This less invasive technique is preferred for locations that are hard to reach with needles, or for dogs that may not tolerate the needles.
Ask your vet about both of these treatments. They may have someone who does it in their practice or can recommend a practitioner for you.
As with most ailments, a multi-pronged approach to helping your dog with arthritis can really improve your dog’s quality of life. Keeping them comfortable is at the top of the list. The good feeling of knowing you improved your dog’s mobility or reduced your dog’s pain lasts a lifetime.