Ramachandran Subramanian has been into dog training since 1998. His mission is to spread his knowledge to every pet owner. He has trained dog in US, Australia and India. He is currently in Chennai.
- Right reason: Adopt for the right reasons. Do not adopt if you only find the Vodafone Pug cute because a pup becomes a family member and requires time, attention and love.
- Warm welcome: Take consent of all family members. All members should be willing to welcome your new bundle of joy.
- Right breed: Consult a veterinarian/breeder for the right breed for you. Ensure you have time and commitment to take care of health, training, grooming, exercise needs and most importantly spending quality time with your canine baby. Do keep into account the energy level and requirement of the breed with your activity levels.
- Basic training: Train your pooch from Day 1. A well-behaved trained dog is a pleasure to be around.
- Age matters: A two months old puppy needs constant care in terms of food, cuddles and housetraining in comparison to a pup who is older. If you have somebody at home who can take care of the pup, will be great.
- No leash, no collar please: Please do not tie your dog or leave him in the garden/garage/guard room/balcony at home. Let him be free and comfortable in your home with you.
- Attending nature’s call: Before you leave for work and as soon as you are back, first attend to your dog specially his exercise and nature’s call needs. If you have help at home – who can do it, walk him will be nice. You can also keep newspapers in a shallow pan where he can relieve himself. This is important because this way, even if the pooch uses this space for relieving himself once in a while, your house would not be dirty.
- Dog proof his space: In order to keep your dog safe and also to ensure he does not hurt himself in separation anxiety, remove harmful things from his space. Give him things he would need – his comfortable bed, his toys, and of course plenty of clean drinking water and his regular food.
- Take help: If possible, you can have a help or a walker who can take your pooch out for his walk, when you are away. Ensure he is a reliable person and he takes him out on a leash.
- Spend quality time: Whenever you are at home, try to spend good quality time with him. Train him, play with him, groom him, take him out for a walk … do what two of you like!
- Make him comfortable: Depending on the weather ensure the pooch is comfortable, also if the pooch is at home alone – leaving the radio on for him is a great way.
- Toys: Toys to stimulate him and keep him busy are good. You could buy a Kong which can be filled with yummy treats to keep his boredom at bay.
Most dogs are extremely tolerant, but if a dog is pushed too far by unwanted attention from kids or feels that the child is threatening him is some way he may feel he has no choice but to growl or snap.
A dog who licks his chops, yawns, suddenly begins to scratch or bite at himself, turns his head away, gets up and leaves or looks at you or the child with a half moon of white showing in his eye is telling you that he is anxious, unhappy and has had enough. These signs will precede the more well-recognised signs of a dog who is warning by growling, snarling, barking or snapping. Teach kids to recognise the signs of a happy dog (panting and wagging his tail) compared to a dog who is anxious or busy with something else (mouth closed and the other signs listed previously). Teach them to interact only with happy dogs and to leave a dog alone who is busy with something else or is showing signs of anxiety.
Here are some other tips from Dog gone Safe to help parents and pet parents keep kids safe around dogs:
The three most important things to teach your kids
- Dogs don’t like hugs and kisses – Teach your kids not to hug or kiss a dog on the face. Hugging the family dog or face-to-face contact are common causes of bites to the face. Instead, teach kids to scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck.
- Be a tree if a strange dog approaches – Teach kids to stand still, like a tree. Trees are boring and the dog will eventually go away. This works for strange dogs and anytime the family dog gets too frisky or becomes aggressive.
- Never tease a dog – and never disturb a dog who’s sleeping, eating or protecting something.
The two most important things parents can do
- Supervise – Don’t assume your dog is good with kids. If a toddler must interact with your dog, you should have your hands on the dog too. Even if your dog is great with kids and has never bitten – why take a chance?
- Train the dog – Take your dog to obedience classes where positive-reinforcement is used. Never pin, shake, choke, hold the dog down or roll the dog over to teach him a lesson. Dogs treated this way are likely to turn their aggression on weaker family members. Involve older children in training the family dog while supervising. Don’t allow children to punish the dog. Condition the dog to enjoy the presence and actions of children using positive experiences.
The three most important things pet parents can do
- Spay or neuter your dog – Neutered pets are calm, healthier and less likely to be aggressive. Neutering prevents unwanted dogs who may end up in shelters or in less than ideal conditions where they may grow up to be poorly socialised or aggressive.
- Condition your dog for the world – Give your puppy lots of new positive experiences. Train using positive methods such as clicker training.
- Supervise your dog – Supervise your dog at all times around children. Do not allow children to hug and kiss the dog. If visiting children are bothering your dog, put the dog away or send the children home.
Safe games for kids and dogs
Showing your children how to interact safely, playfully and positively with your puppy or dog not only strengthens the bond between them, but also enhances the training process by teaching the dog to respond to commands. Here are some fun and simple training games your children and dog can enjoy together.
Hide and seek: This activity is a hit with both two- and four-footed family members. Have one child distract the dog, while the other hides and calls for him. At first, instruct your kids to hide in easy places so the dog can’t go wrong. When the hider is found, he gives the dog a treat. Once the dog gets the hang of the game, the hider can make it more challenging by going out of sight or into another room while the other child encourages the dog to “go find Jordan!” This game exercises the dog and is also mentally stimulating.
Fetch: This is another good game that gives the dog exercise and is fun for kids. It is important, however, that the dog is taught to give back the fetched object and to step back and wait for the next throw. If the dog tries to engage in a game of tug of war, or refuses to give up the object, the kids should end the game and ignore the dog for awhile. “Any game that pits the strength or speed of the dog against those of the child could lead to over-excitement and even a biting accident,” says canine behaviour consultant Teresa Lewin of Milton K9 Obedience in Milton. “Adult supervision and proper training are essential.”
Stay inside the rope: Clicker training is the best way for kids to get involved with training, and this game gives them a good opportunity to try it. Place a circle of rope on the floor and give each child a clicker and some small dog treats (the kids can make a clicking sound with their tongues if no clickers are available). Toss a treat into the centre of the circle to get started. When the dog has eaten the treat, click before she steps outside the rope and toss another treat into the circle. The goal is to click and reward as often as possible while the dog has all four paws inside the rope circle. Once the dog has the idea that the place to be is inside the rope, the children can start moving around the room, still clicking and tossing treats into the circle. Play this in various locations and eventually the dog will learn to go and lie within the rope. You can then take the rope into any situation where you need to establish a boundary for the dog.
Keep it positive: Variations on this method can be used to teach the dog to prefer a certain room in the house, lie on a mat or in a crate, shake a paw, jump over a stick or just about anything else you and your kids can think up. Just remember to teach your kids never to scold or use physical force. The word ‘No’ is never used, and there is no need to try to ‘dominate’ the dog. If the dog does the wrong thing, the kids ignore him; if he responds correctly, he receives a treat reward.
Dogs and kids can be great together. It is the parent’s and pet parent’s responsibility to ensure that the needs of both are met and that happy interactions are the norm between kids and dogs.
(Joan Orr and Teresa Lewin are co-founders of Doggone Safe, a non-profit organisation dedicated to dog bite prevention through education and dog bite victim support (www.doggonesafe.com). They are also the creators of the Doggone Crazy! board game, Clicker Puppy dog training DVD, the Be a Tree teacher kit and several online courses (www.doggonecrazy.ca)).
It’s festive time again…lots of fun, loads of delicacies, beautiful decorations, many guests, loads of gifts…the time is to let your hair down and enjoy. Somehow, the pooches too get into the festive spirit and dance all around…only to be disrupted by noisy crackers, too many treats, too many guests…oh, we need to take care of our pets. Let’s see how.
The last months of the year are always brimming with festivities all keeping us busy and happy at the same time. While all responsible pet parents out there must have thought of all the care they need to give their pets, here’s a checklist, just in case you forgot one.
Decorations at bay: All those attractive tinsels, strings, glass ornaments, etc that liven up the room are equally appealing to our pooches. But they may like to ‘taste’ them as well. So, keep all the decorations at a height where your pooch cannot reach.
Lightings at arm’s length: Similarly, all the lightings used to liven up the room or the beautiful Christmas tree should be installed where your pooch can’t reach them. He may chew up the wire and get hurt.
Candles – of course away from them: Keep the candles and other lighted stuffs like diyas, agarbattis, etc, where you pet cannot reach and injure himself.
Chocolates – a strict ‘no’: Chocolates can be poisonous for your pooch. Even a small bite can be toxic. So, however hard your pooch may try, do not give in to his soulful pleading eyes.
Avoid table leftovers and delicacies: Do not feed your pooch the table leftovers as they may be loaded with fats and other ingredients not fit for pets. Do not feed them delicacies. Instead, give them a balanced healthy meal and give them doggy treats.
Maintain his schedule: Try to keep your pooch happy and unstressed by maintaining his schedule – take time out for his routine walks and don’t forget his mealtimes.
No pets as gifts: Do not give a pet as a gift to your near and dear ones until they really want one. In that case, let them choose a pup for themselves.
Pet-safe gifts: While buying a present for your pooch, keep in mind that it is safe for him. It can be a toy or a chew bone – something that your pooch enjoys.
Crackers-safe: Dogs get alarmed with loud noises. Keep them safe indoors when people are burning crackers outside. Request your neighbours to use noiseless crackers. Put cotton swabs in his ears. Give him a toy to play. Calm him and do not shout at him.
Guests ‘n’ pooch: Festivals are the time for guests. Too many strangers can make your pet excited. Keep him indoors in a safe place where he is away from the hustle-bustle in the house.
Love – at all times: Festive time is a busy time, but do not forget to give quality time to your pet. Pat him, take him for a walk, play with him – show him how much you love him. After all, festivals are all about spreading love and cheer!!!
For many households, bringing home a puppy is an impulse thing. Let’s get a puppy, which breed, the discussion starts and finally the hunt begins and ends in no time. But there is much more to it…
- Match the puppy with your lifestyle: Each breed is different, not just in size, colour, coat etc, but in their unique traits which enable them to do a particular type of work. You have to see if those traits match your personality and lifestyle. A mismatch is always uncomfortable, more so for the dog. So don’t just go by the looks of the dog, choose the right breed keeping in mind his requirements and yours.
- Choose a responsible breeder: If you are going for a pedigree puppy, choose a reputed breeder who has time to talk to you regarding the breed, his needs, the parents and of course the puppy and his care. A responsible breeder will and should also be interested in the person buying the puppy and how he or she plans to keep him and if it will be a good match. The breeder should not just be interested in selling the pup.
- Do not just pick up the puppy on impulse: Most people see a litter of adorable pups and choose the one who looks sweet, without even realizing if that puppy is suitable for them or not. In fact, you can determine the personality of a puppy by seeing how he behaves in the litter. For example, an over-confident pup may be a handful for some to handle.
- Get him home at the right age: Age does play a vital role in the pup’s/dog’s personality to be developed in the coming months and year. I have been noticing that when pups are taken away at about six or less weeks of age they mostly tend to have some behavioural problems. The right age to get a puppy is at least eight weeks. The reason for this is that the mother and the siblings teach the pup a lot during this time and it is very important for them to be together.
- Weaned off: Pick up a pup only when he is weaned off mother’s milk.
- Be ready to pay the right price: Another important observation is that generally breeders tend to try and sell their pups as soon as possible. This is because as the pups grow, they need a lot of care and the cost of feeding them can go up quite a bit, especially in giant breeds. At times, this is also heightened by the prospective puppy owners as they want a cheap puppy, so if you cut out the rearing part of the puppy which should be done by the breeder, you can get a cheaper puppy as the cost is then transferred to the new owner. But that is not right. Quality does come for a price and prospective owners should be ready to pay for it as the puppy they buy will generally live for the next 10 plus years with them and hence they should get a mentally sound, pure bred and genetically healthy puppy rather than an unhealthy one who may have problems later on in life, whether medical or behavioural.
(Dinkar Singh has kept Rottweilers for about 20 odd years with occasionally showing and breeding. He has recently introduced the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for the first time in India. Dogs are his passion and hobby, not his business.)
If your dog is born blind, losing sight or has limited vision due to disease, genetics or injury, she will need a lot of help, support and confidence building. Here are a few tips to make her life easier.
I have written this after experiencing two of my own dogs go blind. My older Labrador Retriever Bella
started to go deaf at 8-9 years of age. I then taught her and used sign/body language to communicate with her. However at the age of 10 years, she began to go blind too and could not see my body language very well. I had to think of other ways to help and support her.
My other dog Kiwi began to loose her sight at the age of fi ve years. She underwent blood tests and saw a specialist. I hope my own experiences will help other people support their dogs, having blindness.
- Your dog may prefer the comforts, familiarity and security of staying at home. If this is the case, give your dog time, it may be that she has not yet come to terms with the loss of vision and may not be ready to venture out into the strange dark world.
- If your dog is fearful of strange or different environments, it may be that your dog feels secure in familiarity. Try to walk or exercise her in familiar territory, if possible away from other dogs and people she does not know.
- When you do start to venture out, try to take it very slowly. Begin with short walks in the same area, building up the time and distance of the walk very slowly at the dog’s pace. If you see her showing signs of getting stress such as panting, lip licking, trying to turn around to go back, rubbing her body against you, standing still and not wanting to carry on, lagging behind you, whining or barking, then help your dog out by ending the walk and taking her back home where she feels safe.
- Try to keep your household and garden furniture in the same place, so that your dog becomes familiar with where everything is. Make sure all sharp edges or holes in the ground are covered and any children’s games or toys are picked up afterwards. Hide or cover all electrical wires your dog may trip on. Keep all low cupboard doors closed so that your dog does not walk into as she cannot see them if they are opened.
- If your dog is partially sighted, she may find it more difficult to see at certain times of the day. Dogs see best at dawn and dusk. According to studies, dogs see their world in colours of white, yellow, blue, indigo and violet. When they are partially blind, these colours will be easier seen at dawn and dusk rather than mid-day when day is at its brightest and colours and shapes of white and yellow may blend in and become harder to distinguish.
- Do not step or reach over your dog. This can be very frightening for her. She does not know what you are doing and partially sighted dog may only see a movement going over her, which is very threatening. Walk slowly around your dog, talking softly to reassure her. If you are going to stroke your dog, bend at your knees and not the waist. Bending at the waist means you are bending over your dog from above, which is very frightening for the dogs, especially with limited sight. Bending at the knees means you are bending down to the dog’s level, your dog will feel much more secure if you stroke her this way.
- When you stroke your dog, make sure you are stroking her slowly, calmly and gentlly. Do not slap the dog on her sides. Often we like to slap our dogs on the sides as an act of affection towards them, but this is very threatening to a dog and may be seen as a punishment rather than our intended affection.
- If you are using baby gates or dog gates in your home, your partially sighted dog may not see the gate if it blends into a light background. Place blue tape across the gate so that the dog can see if the gate is open or closed.
- If your dog is blind and cannot see doors at all, you may need to use language such as telling your dog if the door is open or closed every time she approaches a door. Get used to talking to your dog. Dogs are highly intelligent animals and can grasp language amazingly well.
- Teach your dog ‘left’ and ‘right’ commands, so that you can guide your dog around an obstacle when needed. When out on a walk, each time your dog turns right, say to her ‘right’. Each time your dog turns left tell her ‘left’. Your dog will soon get to learn which way you want her to turn.
- You may fi nd your dog may trip you up a lot as she needs the security of leg hugging. Your dog may need the security of touching you. If your dog is like this (many blind dogs are), then you may need to talk to her more for reassurance and make sure you walk very slowly when your dog is with you.
- Your dog will benefi t from knowing where you are all the time. Separation may cause anxiety. If you can and if it’s safe to do so, take your dog with you to your regular places. Keep her on leash so that she does not wander off and get lost. If you have someone who can babysit when you are out, this will also help your dog to feel more secure. If you cannot do either, give your dog a safe, secure area to rest in, that is warm, with water, some toys and perhaps something she can chew such as a stuffed kong or chewy.
- Talk to her all the time whenever you leave your dog alone, tell her where you are going and how long you will be away.
- If your dog needs to go upstairs, take time to teach her to count. Tell her there are two steps and count them as you go up, 1 and 2 and so on depending how many steps there are. If there are fi ve steps, tell your dog there are five steps, lets go up 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and fi nish.
- The equipment you use on your dog is important. Many dogs come to prefer a soft padded harness. This can give your dog the feeling of being in a secure wraparound or blanket. The centre of your dog’s back is also the centre of balance. If the harness is the correct type for your dog and the leash attachment is at the centre of the dogs back, she may feel more balanced and secure being led via the centre of balance rather than the neck which may be a sensitive area for some dogs.
- A long leash about two metres long may be the preferred length for your dog. This will give her the opportunity to sniff and explore her environment. Your dog will need to sniff and explore, it is a necessary part of her life and more so in blindness as she will be developing and using those other senses a lot more.
- Remember dogs are born blind and it is two weeks after they open their eyes. In that world they depend on their other senses for everything, they need scent and touch to fi nd their mother and to feed. They depend on touch to keep warm and their senses to fi nd one another in the litter.
- Your dog may have loss of sight but her brain will most likely be just as active as always. So, do not stop playing with her. However, the games will no longer be visual games but nose-work games. Your dog will still enjoy games such as hiding treats around your garden or in your house, a kong stuffed with her dinner, a treat ball filled with nice treats, some seaweed from the beach to sniff and play with. Old cardboard boxes stuffed with surprises such as soft toys, treats or nice smelly things to sniff. Old shoes or slippers of her own to explore. These are just a few ideas, but be creative and safe and talk to your dog.
(Nicole N S Mackie is an animal therapist with specialisation in small animal nutrition, dog behaviour, communication and psychology, having experience in veterinary nursing, with qualifications in animal science, canine behaviour, canine psychology, dog training instruction, nutritional advisor of veterinary nutrition and a graduate from the International Dog Behaviour and Training School in the UK.)
Bathing your dog is a challenge – both for you and your dog. But we all know how bathing improves their look and how important it is to maintain their health. Here are a few tips to make bathing a fun and bonding time with your bathing beauties:
- Brush your pooch to make her coat tangle- and matt-free, especially if she is a longhaired pooch.
- Put cotton balls in her ears to prevent water from getting inside her ears.
- Place a rubber mat on which your dog can stand so that she does not slip while bathing.
- Wet your pooch completely with warm water (never cold).
- Use a pet shampoo specially formulated for the pH of your dog’s skin. Longhaired dog requires more shampoo than a short-haired one.
- Start bathing from her head and work towards her tail.
- Use shampoo on hard-to-reach places like belly, armpits and the rear end.
- Use a conditioner to keep her coat tanglefree.
- Rinse her thoroughly with warm water.
- Dry her with a towel before taking her out.
- You can even use a dryer to dry her coat, but fi rst ensure that she is not scared of the noise.
- Keep her indoors until she is completely dry.
Dog massage: magic at the finger tips
Love, companionship and fidelity that a dog can offer are boundless. Whenever your pooch is ill, your pet feels better when petted and touched. Here, Jill A Deming introduces an advanced method, body massage, to promote both the physical and emotional well-being of our furry friends.
I arrived at the house to conduct a massage session with a Miniature Poodle named Castro. I had been seeing him on a monthly basis for a year. Although this was the first time I had seen Castro since he had undergone major surgery on his intestinal tract. He was healing at a remarkable rate – his veterinarians were quite pleased. I unfolded the portable grooming table and began work. He soon relaxed and his pulse rate and breathing slowed. The other animals in the house – 3 dogs and 2 cats – began to approach the table and sit at my feet, as if drawn to Castro’s relaxation. It is a response I often see in household animals that aren’t being massaged. As I began the session with Castro, I gently warmed the skin and muscle tissue with my hands. Gradually, I began feeling for muscle knots, tension and other irregularities in the tissue. Slowly I worked them out, returning to the more compromised areas, using various techniques.
How massage works
Massage is a deliberate and focused technique of touching and the manipulation of muscles and skin to promote well-being. It enables an injured animal to harness its innate resources and capabilities, thereby speeding recovery and correction of a range of physical deficiencies and emotional challenges. When skin receptors are stimulated, they transmit messages to the brain. Once the brain receives these messages, it initiates the production of chemicals that feed major body systems such as the blood, muscles, nerve cells, tissues, and organs. Massage is a vehicle that stimulates these skin receptors and releases the chemicals necessary for the body’s optimum performance.
The health issues and the needs of each dog is different so, a variety of ‘tools’ must be available for the canine massage therapist. Massage is divided into categories that are further divided into techniques. Therefore, a canine massage therapist has numerous techniques to choose from when faced with a particular situation.
“Effleurage” is a sweeping motion performed in the direction of the lymph nodes and encourages toxins to be carried out of the body. I conclude each session with this move because it helps the body to clear any toxins I may have stirred up in the course of the massage.
Consider a litter of puppies playing and tussling with one another. This is a rudimentary form of massage. They are stimulating each other’s skin receptors and increasing the development of their brains.
Massage is particularly effective in treatment of injuries and can also be very effective in treating swelling, muscle spasms, scar tissue, strains, sprains, torn muscles and ligaments, lameness, post-foaling difficulties, and general trauma. It has been proved that animals who receive regular sessions of massage often heal from trauma at a faster rate than those who don’t receive massage.
Massage helps an animal who temporarily has its activity level curtailed by encouraging circulation throughout the system. It does this by dilating blood vessels, which increases the rate at which blood-borne nutrients and oxygen reach cells. The increased circulation also removes waste products such as lymph and lactic acid. Because muscle tissue is comprised of cells, this results in healthier tissue.
Continuous massage helps to reduce the output of ACTH (a stress hormone) that aids the immune system in maintaining its health and disease-fighting capabilities. Constant stress weakens the immune system and makes an animal more likely to succumb to infection.
Blows, wounds or any other type of trauma to the body can cause fibrous tissue adhesions beneath the skin. This impedes the proper movement of the muscles, resulting in future health problems. Tissue adhesions can be considerably reduced by the proper use of massage.
A dog who has scars on his body will benefit from massage in that area because it will contribute to break up the tissue adhessions and allow the muscles to move as they need to. For puppies, massage is useful in stimulating the flow of blood to the bones, thereby nourishing the skeletal system. It aids in the development of nerve pathways in the cortex and sub cortex of the brain, resulting in a more rapid rate of learning.
If you are interested in massage for your dog, ensure that you utilise the services of a certified canine massage therapist.
(Jill A Deming is a biologist, and had numerous years of working experience with exotic animals as a zookeeper. She now lives in the Virginia and specializes in canine and equine massage. More info can be had from www.jdanimals.com)
– by Jill A Deming
Majority of the pet owners do not recognise the importance of taking care of a pet’s teeth. Lack of proper dental care develops problems like periodontal diseases, cavities, abscesses, rotting teeth etc. Regular brushing of teeth is one of the most important steps for preventing dental problems. Brushing removes the daily accumulation of plaque from the teeth. According to American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80% of the dogs show signs of oral diseases by age of 3 years. Gum diseases, if untreated, can lead to pain and loss of teeth. Here are a few tips to keep your dog’s teeth healthy:
- Puppies should be trained with patience to accept brushing their teeth. This exercise should be followed by petting, food treats or playtime.
- Select an appropriate pet toothbrush. It should be extremely soft. The ideal dog toothbrush should have a long handle, angled head and very soft bristles. You can also use plain gauze wrapped around your finger or a fingertip brush.
- Pick appropriate toothpaste designed especially for dogs. The best toothpaste is that which contains enzymes that help in dissolution of plaque and do not need to be rinsed. Human toothpaste should not be used.
- Move the brush in an oval pattern, covering three to four teeth at a time. Outer surfaces of the upper teeth should be given utmost attention.
- Brush him regularly.
- Give him lots of soft chew toys and chew rope to keep his teeth clean.
Dr. Praveen Singh (Nepal) and Dr. Sheetal Kazi Shrestha (Nepal)
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that affects the bones that make up the body’s joints. It causes the bones to rub together because of damage to the surrounding cartilage and tissues that would normally provide protection. And, it doesn’t just occur in human beings. Dogs, too, of any age, may suffer from it, particularly those older than 5 years. The most common types of canine arthritis are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Infectious Arthritis. None of us wish our dogs to suffer from arthritis. So, it’s good to know that if it happens, there are treatments available to ease the symptoms. Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of arthritis, so that you are able to provide better comfort and care to your senior dog.
What causes arthritis?
Some dogs are pre-disposed to suffer from arthritis, for example:
- Dogs who have suffered hip dysplasia, excessive strain on their joints, or previous injuries.
- Older dogs, particularly large dogs aged 5 years and above, and smaller dogs aged 8 years and above.
However, not all dogs with the above conditions get arthritis. Some dogs – just like people – never suffer from arthritis at all. What are the symptoms?
If you think your dog may be experiencing the onset of arthritis, look for signs of stiffness and pain in the joints, which may result in:
- Difficulty going up or downstairs, rising from a sit, and/or performing other movements that were formerly a part of your dog’s everyday life.
- Avoiding, becoming aggressive, and/or exhibiting pain when touched. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from arthritis, consult your veterinarian for a diagnosis. Although there is no cure, there is still much that you can do to help your aging friend enjoy his senior years in comfort.
How can I help ease my dog’s arthritic symptoms?
Controlled exercise: Although vigorous exercise will be painful for an athritic dog, exercise should not be avoided. However, it should be gentle, no-impact exercise. This kind of exercise actually helps decrease the symptoms because it keeps the joints moving.
Healthy weight: If your dog is overweight, this puts more pressure on his joints and his symptoms will be worse. Speak to your veterinarian about helping your dog feel more comfortable by putting him on a calorie-controlled diet. Your vet can help you determine the optimum weight for your dog.
Therapeutic massage: You can do this at home, or take your dog to a professional dog massage therapist. Either way, your dog will appreciate the relief a massage will bring. If you choose to do this yourself, concentrate on areas that may be especially painful and stiff, such as your dog’s joints, and knead these areas gently.
Comfort and care: Arthritis pain is aggravated by the cold, so keep your dog warm by adding an extra blanket or two to his bed, and keep him inside on damp, cold days.
Prescription and medication?: There are many medications that can help ease the pain of arthritis. The type of medication most suitable to your dog depends on the type of arthritis he has, and your veterinarian’s recommendation. Never give medication to your dog without consulting your vet.
Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many ways of helping your dog be more comfortable. And that means that your dog’s life needn’t be ruled by his arthritis. By following the above treatment and suggestions, you are giving your dog the help he needs to continue enjoy many of his favourite activities – whether it’s joining you on the couch or taking a short walk in the park – and that translates to more quality time for you and your senior dog.
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