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Managing Your Senior Dog's Arthritis

By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Senior dogs, regardless of size or breed, may develop arthritis and a stiffening of joint or leg muscles. This can be quite painful as well as limit mobility and cause various levels of stress or anxiety. Sometimes a dog may become fearful since he/she cannot navigate or negotiate certain areas such as steps or stairways as effectively as before, if at all.

Since dogs have a high pain tolerance, it's important to keep your senior dog healthy and to observe for early signs of arthritis and joint pain. Sometimes the legs may appear stiff or even tremble as they walk or stand and the gait may be off or the dog will noticeably limp. Even standing can be painful and they may not be able to balance or support themselves well. Provide soft bedding in an area that's comfortable and make access to necessities much easier. Limit exercise to only what your dog can safely handle.

Seek help from your vet immediately. Glucosamine and chondroitin are effective supplements that your vet can recommend which are very beneficial.

Change the diet to a senior formula and make sure that there are no by-products and fillers included. Senior formula foods provide the extra nutrients older dogs need.

In some cases, your vet may prescribe pain medication or a muscle relaxer if needed, or suggest seeking special types of therapy or acupuncture.

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