Just as human joints can begin to become painful and inflamed over time, dogs can suffer from arthritis too. Arthritis in dogs commonly occurs in the knees or hips but can also be in the shoulders or wrists. There are several methods of physical therapy you can try if your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis.
Canine physical therapists can teach you several range-of-motion exercises you can do with your dog to help relieve the pain of arthritis.
- When your dog is laying on its side, move its legs in a circular motion as if it was running. Do this slowly, and massage the dogs limbs with your fingers as you do the movements.
- Teach your dog to stand with either the front or back legs elevated depending on where the arthritis is centered. Use a bucket, a step, or even a book, as long as it is large enough to bring your dog up off the ground. This will stretch the hips, shoulders, and legs.
Swimming is very effective for dogs with arthritis pain. If you have access to a pool, lake, or other body of water, take your dog swimming as often as possible.
Many animal therapy clinics have endless pools that force water through a small lap pool and allow the dog to swim continuously. Therapy clinics may also have underwater treadmills let dogs go for a walk without putting stress on joints. In fact, veterinarymedicine.com says that these treadmills not only help arthritis, but other injuries and obesity. So if arthritis is making it hard for your dog to improve his or her health, an underwater treadmill may be the key to recovery.
Gently massage the area where the dog has arthritis by pushing with your fingers around the area. Gradually make the massage harder until your dog shows signs of being uncomfortable. Deep tissue massage can increase blood flow to the area, relax the muscles, and help alleviate pain.
Regular massage may make it possible for your dog to use a fuller range of motion in movement. This will also relieve arthritis pain.
Some canine massage therapists will use calming essential oils like tea tree oil or lavender oil.
There are many ways to treat arthritis in dogs, and your veterinarian may suggest medication or even surgery as well as physical therapy. Ask your veterinarian if your dog would benefit from seeing a professional canine physical therapist to treat the arthritis and to give you suggestions for exercises you can do with your dog at home.