Understanding Dog Arthritis Pain and Pain Alleviation

Dog arthritis is a debilitating disease that affects your dog’s ability to move. The disease attacks the cartilage in the joints, and when there is damage to the cartilage tissue it becomes difficult and painful for the dog to walk. In the advanced stages of the disease, “bone to bone” contact occurs. This means there is no longer enough cartilage left and bones are exposed to each other, without any cushioning, causing the dog to experience extreme pain just by sitting down or standing up.

Though dog arthritis does not have a cure, there are many ways to control its progress. In dog arthritis treatment, the objective is threefold:

Firstly, the dog’s fitness must be maintained as well as a good diet. Regular exercise will help the dog maintain a healthy weight. Active therapy, where the dog is encouraged to move, helps strengthen the muscles and bones as well as avoiding the joints stiffening through lack of use. With a strong but lean body mass, the strain on the joints is reduced and injury can be avoided. This is important since any injury that affects the dog’s movement will exacerbate the progress of dog arthritis.

Secondly, the protection and rehabilitation of cartilage tissue is of vital importance. Cartilage provides a smooth and lubricated contact surface for the two adjoining bones of the joint to move. As a result, when dog arthritis causes deterioration of the cartilage tissue, the dog’sĀ Tramadol 200mg movement is significantly hampered. For this, non -prescription arthritis remedies for dogs are used. These come in the form supplements containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamins A, C, and E and the mineral selenium can also contribute to the protection and regeneration or regrowth of cartilage tissue.

Finally, the last aspect is probably the most important since pain relief and anti-inflammatory drugs enable the first two points to be effectively carried out. In any dog arthritis treatment plan, the most important goal is to suppress the pain and inflammation, so the dog can continue living a good quality of life regardless of the disease.

Understanding Pain

Before we discuss the various ways in which pain and inflammation are controlled. It is important for dog owners to be aware of what kind of pain their pets are suffering from.

There are actually two types of pain and this an important factor in determining the correct and safe dose of medication is used.

The first one is acute pain. This type of pain occurs suddenly due to an injury or during the healing phase. The best way to approach acute pain is to treat it before it happens. This works well in situations when pain is expected, such as post-operative pain after surgery. In these situations, lower initial doses are recommended and can be increased if the pain becomes intolerable. However for unexpected injuries, the initial dose should be high. Only after a period of time should the dose be lowered.

The second type is chronic pain. This is a type of pain that persists because of a damaging process that is ongoing, like dog arthritis.

Prescription Pain Relief and Anti-inflammatory Drugs

There are many ways to alleviate the pain and inflammation caused by dog arthritis. For dog owners, it is important to be aware of these medications so that an informed decision can be made about how to treat arthritis in dogs.

Most vets are hesitant in recommending alternative medicine to treat pain. However, as the demand for natural and organic products increase, more and more dog owners are getting curious about herbal concoctions and traditional techniques such as acupuncture that are believed to provide natural arthritis pain relief for dogs.

NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the standard form of medication used for pain and inflammation. However, it is important to be aware that these drugs do have side effects and in rare occasions, if they are used inappropriately, may can even result in death. NSAIDs act on the pro-inflammatory prostaglandin. Unfortunately, the enzyme is a vital component of the protective lining in the stomach and upper intestines, in the production of platelets (involved in clotting), and in the maintenance of blood circulation in the kidneys. NSAIDs, thus, can cause ulcers, intestinal bleeding, blood thinning, and kidney damage.

Narcotics as pain relievers have been used for centuries. Unfortunately they can be addictive and therefore, are not readily available in certain countries and some states in the US because narcotics are listed as controlled substances. In veterinary medicine, one of the commonly used narcotics is Codeine. This drug suppresses pain because the dog’s body metabolizes it into morphine. Since morphine’s chemical structure is similar to endorphins, morphine alleviates pain and produces a feeling of well-being.

Tramadol has similar pain-relieving effects to narcotics; however, chemically they are not related. This drug is certainly less controversial than narcotics and is generally safer than NSAIDs (interestingly, NSAIDs are FDA approved while Tramadol is not). It is regarded by most vets as one of the most reliable prescription pain killers in dogs.

Gabapentin is a drug originally used for epilepsy but vets have observed that the drug can also suppress chronic pain. The drug is used as support therapy in conjunction with NSAIDs, as the combination seems to be more effective compared to depending solely on NSAIDs. One reason why most vets do not use it as a primary analgesic is its price. Gabapentin is very expensive.

Anti-depressants can now be used for chronic pain in dogs. The premise here is that these drugs are able to suppress dog arthritis chronic pain because of their ability to lighten the mood of dogs. It is of course a medically accepted fact that patients that are depressed feel more pain or can even have the sensation of pain when there is no pain to begin with. Examples of anti-depressants used in dogs are Amitriptyline and Amantadine. Both drugs are not approved by the FDA to be used in dogs; but nevertheless, they are gaining popularity among vets, who recommend these drugs as support therapy alongside other analgesics including NSAIDs.

How to Play Tug Games With Your Dog in a Way That Is Fun AND Safe

Forget the Myth!

For decades, dog owners have been told never to play tug-of-war with their dogs because it increases aggression. This isn’t true. Every study done refutes the notion. Playing tug-of-war doesn’t turn your dog into a predator; your dog already is one. The game simply provides a safe and enjoyable outlet for the behavior.

Playing Tug-of-War

Why it’s a good idea

Tug-of-war is:

A tremendous cardio workout (exercise) and brainteaser for your dog (mental stimulation).
A great way to teach your dog to listen to cues when excited and distracted.
Exercise that can happen indoors and outdoors, in short sessions and with little space.
Likely to lessen any behavior problems resulting from under-stimulation and boredom.
A potent motivator for snappy obedience.
The Caveat

Tug-of-war should be correctly trained and always played by the rules. Remember: Control the game and you control the dog. Follow the method and rulesĀ Best cookie clicker laid out here and you are in for a great time with your dog!

If your dog hoards the toy

Show zero interest. If, or when, your dog “wins” (i.e. you let go of the tug toy, dog leaves and hoards the toy), play hard to get. Never chase your dog or get into a battle involving speed or agility. You won’t win and psych-outs work much better, so pretend you couldn’t care less.

Observe and reward steps in the right direction

If your dog tries to re-engage you in the game by dropping the toy in front of you, praise and try again. The goal is for your dog to learn that the tug toy is infinitely more fun when brought to life by you than when dead. Patience is key here, especially with toy hoarders.

Before Playing Tug-of-War

Put the release on cue

Decide on a release cue such as “Drop it”, “Out”, “Give”, or “Let go”. Before getting your dog excited about playing tug-of-war, practice some low-key exchanges with him. The sequence is:

Give the cue to release
Your dog releases
Give a food reward
Give the cue to re-take

If your dog doesn’t take the tug toy in its mouth to begin with, practice the exchanges anyway (or use a clicker to shape the behavior!).

Give your dog the toy (put it down in front) and then take it back, give the reward, and then replace the toy. Rehearse dozens of reward-for-toy exchanges. The release cue should be trained before you continue with the game. If your dog becomes possessive about toys, you can toss a tasty treat off to the side, at a safe distance, to reclaim the toy safely.

If your dog grabs the toy and runs away, instead practice the exchanges without completely letting go of the toy. The important thing is that your dog experiences having something taken away, getting a reward, and then having the thing presented again.

If your dog won’t let go of the toy with a bit of encouragement, try first having him sniff the food treat. Once this has worked a few times, hide the treat and try again. If your dog is reluctant to release, reward every exchange until he releases without hesitation on the first command every time. Eventually, getting to take the toy again will become the reward for releasing on command, but using food early on helps break your dog’s focus on the toy. Experiment with a variety of different food treats if your dog is very reluctant to part with his tug toy.

Consequences for Penalties

During actual tug-of-war games, apply the following penalties:

30 Second Time-Out

For any failure to release the tug toy, stop play and leave the room for 30 seconds.

End The Game

For any unintentional or intentional misconduct, such as even the slightest tooth contact (grabbing your clothes or hand with mouth) stop the game altogether.

Send a clear message that tooth contact means no fun. When your dog knows, loves, and is hooked on tug-of-war, ending the game abruptly is by far the most potent motivator against rule breaking. Your dog will curb their behavior in order to keep playing with you.

4 Essential Rules

1. Your dog has to release the tug toy on cue.

Since you have thoroughly trained the release cue, any failure to comply should result in a time-out penalty.

2. One tug toy only and the game only happens when you say so.

Designate a tug toy as the one-and-only tug toy, reserved for this game and nothing else. Then decide on a take command like “Get the rope!” This rule prevents your dog from misfiring in day-to-day life: you don’t want someone innocently picking up a tug toy and being enthusiastically jumped by your dog and you don’t want to have him grab some other thing you are holding because he thought he heard the cue.

The easiest way to train this rule is to practice it while playing. If your dog goes for the toy before you have invited him, give a No Reward Marker (“Oh! Too bad!”), and do a time-out followed by an obedience break (see the next rule). Then invite your dog to take the toy.

This rule infraction is extremely common in tug-of-war games, so don’t sweep it under the rug. If your dog goes for another retake before being invited, i.e. makes the same mistake twice in a row,end the fun.

3. Stop the game for random obedience breaks.

Tug-of-war is one of the great recyclable rewards for obedience training. Alternate back and forth between the tug game and obedience to spot-check your control over your dog during the game and to teach him obedience when he is excited and distracted. Every initiation of the tug game is a potent reward you can use to select a particularly nice obedience response. Your dog will try fanatically hard to improve his obedience to get you to restart the game. What’s more, through repeated association over time, the two activities will blur in your dog’s mind, eventually making him love obedience training.

4. Don’t tolerate sloppy jaw control

Your dog will sometimes make contact with your hand or other part of you by mistake. Sometimes he might even latch on to you or your clothing as though you were a tug toy. Don’t let this go unnoticed. Say “Ouch!” even if it didn’t hurt and abruptly end the game (NOT in a loud, sharp voice). This is game misconduct every time. Dogs can control their jaws with great precision if given a reason to do so.

With this rule you not only remind your dog of the sensitivity of human skin and the great necessity to keep his jaws off people at all times, you have also trained this while he is excited, which is where sloppy jaws are most often a problem.