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Accommodations for Arthritic Pets

Michelle Ferrera, DVM

We are seeing more of our  patients living into their teenage years. It is our goal as pet doctors to help pets enjoy the best quality of life for as long as possible. Nutrition, supplements and other types of preventive medicine help us in this goal, but many older pets, like older people, face mobility challenges. This article will address some ways that you can make your home easier for your older pet to navigate.

Slippery flooring creates insecure footing for older pets causing them to slip or making it difficult to rise from a resting position. Keep your pets nails trimmed to an appropriate length, and consider trimming some of the hair from the bottom of your pets foot if the pads are being covered by the hair. The pads allow the foot to “grab” the floor a bit more easily. If you have tile or wood flooring, add some area rugs that are anchored securely by furniture so that your pet has a more comfortable area to lay on, and can get up more easily.

Many clients want to purchase orthopedic bedding for their pets, consisting of thick foam cushions. I have found that some pets find the thick bedding too difficult to navigate with arthritic joints, and it upsets their balance. Consider a bed that is just big enough to fit the body, but still have room for the feet to contact a rug at the edge of the bed to make rising easier.

There are harnesses, shoes, and nail covers available to help with lifting a dog or to help a dog grip the floor available as well. Ramps and small stair cases help pets get up and down when they can no longer jump. Strollers to help a dog enjoy the outdoors are easy to find. Don’t forget to ask your vet about any specific solutions that they may have experience with. Many options exist, and with a little research you can find one that meets the needs for you and your pet.