Walking a dog who is suffering from arthritis helps to keep his joints mobile. But long walks can also exacerbate the deterioration of the joint surfaces and therefore the pain, so it should be accompanied by weight control, dietary changes and therapeutic agents.
Going for walks also boosts the dog’s morale. Spending all his days lying around in the house would be as depressing for your dog as it would be for you.
As one’s state of mind creates one’s state of health, it is imperative to keep your dog in a positive emotional condition. Going for a walk lifts the spirit and gives your dog time with your undivided attention. Value this time with your dog and leave your mobile phone at home.
Combined with appropriate treatments, gentle walking can increase the blood supply to the joints thus increasing the amount of joint fluid lubricating the joints, bathing the joint surfaces in nutrient rich fluid and helping to remove the debris and toxins from the joint. The lymphatic system is critical in the removal of these toxins.
The flow of lymph is dramatically increased with movement, so gently walking helps the lymph to flow thus reducing the toxic load on the tissues.
Exercise also builds and maintains the muscles. Strong muscles take the load off the joints by providing support and stability to the joints. Without much muscle, the joints are more vulnerable to increased damage from unnatural movements, stresses and strains.
Non weight-bearing exercise helps to build muscle, increase the blood supply and lymphatic drainage while reducing the pressure on the joints, helping to keep the painfully damaged joint surfaces apart.
Hydrotherapy achieves these goals beautifully. There are various options and the trained hydrotherapist will be able to advise the most suitable form of exercise for your dog. Initially, the dog is likely to be offered gentle, controlled walking on a treadmill while floating in
The water level is adjusted so that the dog’s paws just touch the treadmill belt. Your dog will feel the ‘ground’ moving under his paws and be encouraged to walk. This activity usually makes a profound difference to the progression of the arthritic condition and the maintenance of joint function and mobility.
It can also be deemed appropriate to put the dog in a warm hydrotherapy pool, wearing a buoyancy jacket, and encourage him to swim towards you. The action of this completely free ‘doggy paddle’ is invigorating and encouraging for both you and your dog.
In addition to the physical benefits of hydrotherapy, it also boosts your and your dog’s morale. It’s an enjoyable outing and the dog feels able to move again and is thus encouraged.