You can help your dog with arthritis, even though there is no cure. Treatment can include surgery, diet, exercise, weight management, medications, supplements and making physical adjustments to your pet’s surroundings.
While each of these is important to helping your pet stay healthy and active, perhaps the most critical issues for Weimaraners are weight management and lack of exercise.
If your dog has been physically active, running with you or hunting with you, she may slow down considerably as she ages. If this is the case, she can easily gain weight.
Fortunately you can address these two issues easily.
So, if your dog has a diagnosis of arthritis, let’s look at ways you can help her. Below we’ll discuss:
- Medications and supplements
- Weight control
- Physical accommodations
I have included links to various products, to show you examples. You can buy these items, if you’d like. Most of the links go to Amazon or Chewy, and I do receive a small commission for any purchases. Your cost remains the same as always, with no added amount.
Medications and Supplements
With any illness or condition, most people automatically think of a quick fix—medicines or supplements. Your vet will probably suggest something to help with the pain, stiffness and inflammation.
You should discuss medications with your vet, as some human medicines can cause problems with dogs.
No matter what breed of dog you have, you need to be careful to administer the right amount of medicine. Even though your Weimaraner is a large dog, the dosage is different for dogs than for people. You certainly don’t want to accidentally overdose him and hurt him.
Some of the medicines that your vet may recommend:
This is a joint supplement, made with MSM, Glucosamine, and Condroitin. While this is similar to joint supplements for humans, this one is made especially for dogs.
NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
The NSAID family includes aspirin and Ibuprofin. If you give your dog too much of this medication, it can damage the kidneys.
NSAIDs need to be taken with food, as they can cause poor appetite, vomiting and stomach ulcers.
Buffered aspirin is included in this family of drugs.
Anti-inflammatory drugs like Rimadyl, Etogesic or Dermaxx
Rimadyl puts extra stress on your dog’s liver. If your dog takes Rimadyl, she will need to have a blood test every 6 weeks to check on her liver function.
This is mostly an issue for Labrador Retrievers.
This is an injection in your dog’s muscle.
Initially, your dog will have a shot twice a week for a month. Then the injections will be given once a month.
Adequan blocks the enzymes that cause inflammation and injure joint cartiledge. It is an effective treatment.
Adequan injections stimulate more joint fluid in the joints and Adequan works pretty quickly. So you should see results in a few days or weeks.
Fish oil is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6, this is a liquid that you add to your Weimaraner’s food.
In addition to helping her joints, it will also strengthen your dog’s immune system and make her skin and coat healthier!
Surgery for Canine Arthritis
Surgery is not for every dog. Your vet will decide whether this is a good option for your Weimaraner. His decision will depend on your dog’s general health and her age.
If your dog has surgery, she may have one or more of these procedures:
Hip or joint replacement
Just like a person, your dog may have just worn out one or more of his joints.
Additionally, if your dog had an injury, even as long ago as when he was a puppy, he is more prone to arthritis later in that joint.
Athletic dogs, just like athletic people, put a lot of wear and tear on their joints.
With arthroscopic surgery, the vet will do the surgery through a small incision or opening. If your vet chooses this kind of surgery, it is to remove little chips of damaged bone.
The little bone chips can press on nerves or they can damage other tissues in your dog’s body.
If a joint is badly damaged, the vet may actually fuse the joints together.
If this surgery is done, your dog will have to compensate or move differently because he will lose his normal range of motion or ability to move naturally. This is because the fused joints don’t move anymore. They act as one solid bone.
Unfortunately when joints are fused, they can put stress on neighboring bones and joints.
This is very rare and done only in extreme cases. Vets do not usually recommend amputation for arthritis.
Weight Control for Arthritis
Since being overweight is a major factor in developing arthritis, it makes sense that you should work to keep your dog’s weight under control.
Light exercise helps keep muscles intact and helps keep your dog’s weight down. As your dog ages, his exercise could be a walk or two a day, instead of a run in the fields or woods.
A large breed diet that is designed for Weimaraners and nutritionally balanced will also help keep your dog’s weight under control.
Dogs are carnivores, and their dog food should reflect this.
Make sure you are feeding your dog the right amount of dog food, not even a little more than specified. Extensive testing is done to determine the correct amount for a dog’s health. Don’t second guess the scientists.
Dog treats – Of course you want to give your dog treats. I’m not suggesting that you deprive your dog of fun treats. Just make sure that you aren’t feeding him too many or treats that contribute to weight gain.
And there are special dog treats for overweight dogs, like these Get Naked dental dog treats.
In general, cut down on carbohydrates, as they contribute to inflammation in your dog’s joints.
Exercise to Help your Dog with Arthritis
Normally Weimaraners love to run and play. But, if your dog has arthritis, he won’t be nearly as active and might even become a couch potato because of the pain and weakness in his joints.
You’ll need to get him moving again. But it is important to do this carefully. Too much exercise can actually hurt your dog’s joints or make the joint damage worse.
You will find that, just like people, dogs will move better and with less pain, after warming up or having some easy exercise. It’s actually a way to decrease your dog’s pain.
So how do you maintain a balance for your dog?
- Short walks – Your dog still needs to take walks for gentle exercise. Not hikes up steep mountains, but short walks on fairly level paths. Going downhill is even worse than going uphill, for pain in sore leg joints.
- How often? – Take 20 minute walks with your pet, at least 3 times a week. Dogs, like people, are not intended to be weekend warriors. If you only exercise your dog occasionally, she is far more likely to get injured, in both her muscles and her joints.
- Play with your Weimaraner – It’s still OK to exercise your Weimaraner by playing games in the yard or on the carpet in the living room. Keep her moving to loosen up those joints.
- Exercise in water – If you live near water or have a pool, aquatic exercise is great for sore joints. When your dog swims or exercises in water, you eliminate the usual pounding stress to joints. Water therapy is very helpful for arthritic joints. It also improves your dog’s cardiovascular health, strengthens his muscles and improves his range of motion.
- Massage – While not actually exercise, massaging your dog helps improve blood circulation and it also relaxes your dog. Arthritic dogs can become anxious, as they don’t understand why they are now in pain. Massage is also a nice way to spend time together.
- Grooming – You probably brush your Weimaraner often already. Brushing helps with blood circulation to muscles and joints.
Make Your Dog’s Space Comfortable
There are a number of things that you can do to make your arthritic senior dog more comfortable. Luckily, most of these are really simple and easy to do…
Help your Dog Stay Warm and Dry
People with arthritis have worse symptoms when the weather is cold and damp. Dogs do too. So, something as simple as a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel can help keep your dog’s old bones warm.
Even easier, consider getting a self-warming pet mat. There are also a number of electric warming mats for dogs, but I do not recommend them because the cords can pose a hazard, especially if your dog or cat is a chewer.
Since your dog spends many hours each day in her bed, make sure she has plenty of support for those sore joints.
Your dog’s bed should also be easy to step into, as arthritis makes it hard to climb onto a raised bed. I’d keep the height below 6”, so your dog doesn’t have to struggle to get onto the bed. A pillow or raised edge is nice for supporting your dog’s head, as well.
Place several beds around your house, so your dog can be comfortable, but still be near the family.
Food and water dishes
When your dog leans down to eat or drink, there is stress on her neck if she has arthritis in that area. It may be tempting to get your dog raised dog and food bowls, but this is not recommended for Weimaraners.
Weims are prone to getting dog bloat, and raised bowls can aggravate this really serious problem.
In addition, if you place a non-skid mat under the food area, that will keep the bowls from moving, another source of stress on joints.
If your dog is arthritic, she will have trouble jumping up onto a bed or sofa and getting into your car. Stay away from stairs, as she’ll also have trouble climbing stairs.
To help your dog get into the car or onto the bed or sofa, you can use a ramp. When you purchase a ramp, look for one that has a non-skid surface. I also like a lip on each side, but that is not absolutely essential.
A foldable ramp for the car is collapsible, so you can easily take it with you in the car.
While arthritis is an unfortunate diagnosis for many dogs, you can still make your Weimaraner comfortable and spend fun times together.
With just a few adjustments to help your dog with arthritis, you should find that she is moving better and participating in more activities that she always thought were fun.