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Activity Adjustments for Older Dogs

by Ruth Riley, Teacher and Consultant


As your dog ages, routine activities become difficult. The easy run becomes a stiff walk, jumping onto the sofa is no longer possible and modifications are necessary.


Just like humans, some dogs may also suffer from arthritis pain. This article will talk about osteoarthritis, its signs, and the activity modifications you can do to help your arthritic dog.



What Is Canine Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of arthritis common in dogs. It’s a progressive degenerative joint illness caused by the deterioration of cartilage. Similar to humans, dogs suffering from OA experience changes in their affected joints that can be incredibly painful for them.


Signs Your Dog Is In Pain

If you detect the following signs of bone or joint pain and suspect that your canine companion may have arthritis, schedule an appointment with your vet to create a care plan.


Unwillingness to Move

Perhaps your dog used to dart into your vehicle the moment the car doors opened or he followed you around the house, even upstairs. If you notice his reluctance to do things that were previously not a problem, arthritis could be to blame.



Lameness is the inability to use one or both limbs properly, often associated with injury or pain. Depending on the severity and duration of your dog's condition, your vet will determine the best course of action based on diagnostic test results.


Yelping When Touched

Inflammation in your dog’s joints can make them extra sensitive. If your dog rejects your affection or worse, he cries out in pain when you hug him it could indicate the affected area.



Just like how some people may have a shorter temper when in constant pain, the same goes for your pet. Your dog may bite or snap if you’re holding it in a way that worsens the pain.


Licking Paws

Although occasional paw licking and chewing is not unusual for dogs, arthritis and nerve pain may cause your pet to lick the affected area to help soothe the pain. Your veterinarian may perform MRI or X-ray to check for any abnormalities.


Modifications For Arthritic Dogs

As a pet parent, you’ll have to manage your dog’s OA at some point. Below are some helpful modifications that you can apply to help treat your dog.


Exercise Modifications

Dogs with osteoarthritis have a limited range of motions so making exercise adjustments may help them get moving again. Try walking your pet most days and when indoors, motivate your dog to move by short sessions of fun games like “finding the treat.”


Weight Modifications

Dogs are overweight if they weigh 10% to 20% above their ideal body mass. Preventing obesity reduces the prevalence of OA. Schedule portioned feedings. then, slowly lessen the portions to find out how much food can satisfy your pooch.


Environmental Modifications

Simple home adjustments can make everyday living more comfortable for your dog. If your pet is in pain because of OA, you may provide raised food and water dishes to soothe its low-back pain.


Adding Alternative Treatments

Research suggests that CBD may help dogs with OA-associated pain. You may use CBD massage oils to help relieve your pet’s sore muscles.


Reference Information:  {1} Risk Factors for Canine Osteoarthritis, Predisposing Arthropathies, A Systematic Review


{2} Lameness in Dogs   {3} Why is my dog obsessed with licking his paws?


Author’s Bio: Ruth Riley teaches linguistics to college students and also conducts studies about CBD. She believes CBD is one of the best natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs and that it is worth more in-depth research and understanding.

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ARTHRITIS INFORMATION - RN provides solid information on canine arthritis and how to help your dog through joint disease treatment.

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