My pet seems to be in pain, and isn’t as active as they should be. What should I do?

First, talk to your veterinarian and have them examine your pet. Your pet might have arthritis. Older pets, especially large dogs, are vulnerable to arthritis and other joint diseases, and the signs you see can vary. This chart provides the basic signs you might see if your pet has arthritis; you might see one or more of these signs in your pet.

Signs of Arthritis in Pets

  • Favoring a limb
  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Sleeping more
  • Seeming to have stiff or sore joints
  • Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased activity or interest in play
  • Attitude or behavior changes (including increased irritability)
  • Being less alert

Signs of arthritis often are similar to signs of normal aging, so if your pet seems to have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, the best thing to do is to have your veterinarian examine them, and then advise you as to what treatment plan would be best to help your pet deal with the pain. Arthritis treatments for pets are similar to those for humans, and may include:

  • Healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight.
  • Working with your veterinarian to find a drug treatment that helps relieve the pain.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): the most common treatment for arthritis in dogs. These drugs are similar to ibuprofen, aspirin, and other human pain relievers.
  • Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
  • Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
  • A veterinarian-prescribed NSAID and an over-the-counter treatment that together may help decrease pain and disease progression.
  • Diets with special supplements may also help decrease the discomfort and increase the joint mobility

Do not give human pain medications to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian. Some human products, including over-the-counter medications, can be fatal for pets.

Changes in the home environment may also help you deal with an older pet who is experiencing stiffness and/or pain. Orthopedic beds, stair steps to help an animal up to higher places (so they don’t have to jump), raised feeding platforms, etc. can help make your arthritic pet’s life more comfortable.

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