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Helping Creaky Dogs Feel Young Again

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— April 29, 2017

Helping Creaky Dogs Feel Young Again

  • You can still remember the day your parents brought him home—he was so glad to meet you that his whole body shook when he wagged his tail. You’ve been through everything together. He’s your bestie for life.
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Dog

But one undergrad degree, two apartments, and three jobs later, you’re starting to notice things, like the limp he’s developed when going downstairs, or the fact that getting off the dog bed isn’t as easy as it used to be. And you’re wondering what’s wrong. It could be arthritis.

Like people, dogs can develop joint pain and stiffness as they get older. And as with people, carrying too much weight and not being as active as they should be can hasten the process. Your first step should be getting your pal in for a checkup. But if it is arthritis, there are a lot of natural ways you can help him feel better: » Serve high-quality food. “Dry pet food is convenient but it’s loaded with starch,” says Doug Knueven, DVM, owner of the Beaver Animal Clinic in Beaver, Pennsylvania. “It’s easier for them to overeat dry food.” » Take your dog for longer walks and encourage him to play in a yard or dog park, but not to the point where he’s in pain. Ramp it up gradually. » Glucosamine and chondroitin, the same supplements older people use for their achy joints, help dogs, too.

You can also try green-lipped mussels, hyaluronic acid, MSM and Western or Chinese herbs (get advice from your vet). » Try alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic. To find practitioners who specialize in these treatments, visit the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association: ahvma.org.

Arthritis in Cats

Cats also suffer from arthritis but often hide their symptoms. “Fewer cats are taken to the vet. And cats can be very stoic about their pain,” Knueven explains. “What people will notice is that the cat is having trouble jumping up onto the counter, things like that. But a lot of times we’ll find arthritis incidentally when taking X-rays for other reasons.” The advice for dogs applies to cats as well; for exercise, try fishing pole toys or laser pointers (never aim the red dot at the cat’s eyes and always throw down a toy at the end for her to “kill”).

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