It is certainly heartbreaking to see your dog limping due to pain caused by arthritis, which is a common condition in dogs, especially the older ones. If your dog is diagnosed with arthritis, you should consider exercise as an important part of therapy. There are several good reasons to exercise your dog if he or she is suffering from arthritis:
Weight management: the excess weight in obese dogs can make the pain worse because of increased stress on the joints; therefore you are doing your dog a favor by walking him or her. If your dog is in the right weight range, exercise helps to prevent weight gain.
Relief of joint stiffness: the more your dog lies or sits down, the stiffer the arthritic joints become; exercise helps with flexibility in the joints as well as strengthening of the muscles around the joint.
Prevention of cardiovascular illnesses: exercise is good for cardio-related diseases such as hypertension and diabetes as well as serving as an important part of therapy if these conditions are already exist.
Sleep therapy: exercise helps your dog to sleep better as well as being less depressed.
Exercising a dog with arthritis has to be done very carefully so that the joints do not become more swollen and painful. Short walks in 10-15 minute increments are recommended over long walks. The dog will usually indicate when the exercise is too much and the pet owner should always oblige. If he wants to run let him run and if he wants to rest, let him rest.
The following exercises are recommended for your arthritic dog:
• Walking: low intensity, no hills or rough surfaces. Carpeted floors are also ideal for walking
• Hiking: short hikes on smooth trails are less aggravating to the joints
• Swimming: water at normal atmospheric temperatures is preferred over warm or cold water. It is believed that warm or cold water are worse on the joints of an arthritic dog. Swimming puts less pressure on the joints than walking or running.
• Games such as hide and seek and fetch in 10 minute increments provide both exercise and fun for your dog and we all know much fun games mean to our pets.
While your arthritic dog may be more prone to lying down, some exercise can provide pain relief and improve quality of life.