My dog is arthritic, but he really used to love walks. Should You Walk a Dog with Arthritis?
One of the many things you’d notice in a dog with arthritis is that they seem to be in constant pain and discomfort. A previously happy dog will become lethargic and rather reluctant to engage in any physical activity. Still, your dog needs to exercise to prevent further complications, and slow gentle walks are just the thing they need.
Should You Walk a Dog with Arthritis?
It’s natural to have questions about why dogs suffering from arthritis need to engage in more physical activity. Over the years, pet owners have raised concerns that exerting pressure on arthritic joints can further worsen the wear and tear of cartilage surrounding the deteriorating joints.
Regardless, experts have highlighted various reasons why it’s necessary to continue with an exercise regimen for dogs, arthritic or not.
Some of these reasons include:
#1. Weight Control
Refusing to walk your dog can make it sedentary and consequently obese. Although it hurts to move around, zero exercise and obesity is the last thing your pet’s arthritic joints need. Obesity also puts your dog at a risk for cardiovascular disease and liver problems.
Dogs with arthritis need a diet change, and they also need some exercise to ensure that they burn off any excess calories and remain in good shape.
#2. Muscle Maintenance
The absence of constant exercise can lead to weak bones and stiff muscles. Your dog will also lose important muscle mass, causing more reduced mobility. Short walks stimulate lubrication of the joints and slows down the progression of the disease.
#3. Stress Relief
Dogs are naturally energetic creatures. Even humans find it difficult to match their bubbling energy levels and athleticism. Putting all that energy to good use makes them happy, and that is why healthy dogs want to play often.
What happens when your arthritic and sedentary dog does not have a way to get all that pent-up tension out of the system? Already extra-sensitive from the smarting in its joints, you also get a grumpy and irritable canine.
You might also might find the following article useful: What Are The First Signs Of Arthritis In Dogs?
Overall Health Benefits
It has been scientifically proven that walking facilitates digestion and prevents constipation. Consistent walking also helps your dog maintain their routine pattern of pooping and urinating, facilitating waste passage and preventing infections.
Walking also boosts your dog’s mental health. A walkabout with its favorite human will reduce feelings of loneliness, fear, or sadness. The discovery of new sights and scents during walks also helps alleviate boredom. Even if they don’t feel like it at the start, your pet is sure to enjoy walks no matter how stressful it can be.
How To Walk A Dog With Arthritis
The plethora of benefits available in walking dogs should not distract you from the fact that an arthritic dog requires extra care, especially when it comes to physical activities. It’s easy to worsen the situation when you’re not gentle enough, and you must try to avoid that. Here’s how do you do it right.
#1. Mildly Regimented
Exercises should not be too physically tasking. Take it low, slow, and frequent. That means not much running, no extra jumping, and no unnecessary tricks or flicks. You might also want to ensure you have a lead, so you can have an increased degree of control on the exercise activities.
#2. Conducive Terrain
We don’t advise walks in uneven terrains that require climbing or descending over hills, or jumping over ditches. Your dog can trip over its weak legs and further aggravate its condition.
Tracks cushioned with material like grass are a great choice. Avoid rocky or abrasive areas that can put more strain on the joints and ultimately injure your dog more.
You should also factor in weather conditions before walking a dog with arthritis. Cold or wet weather can aggravate pain and sensitivity, and walking your dog in such weather might not be the best of options.
Pet Life can help significantly with easing your dogs pain and helping them become more active again.