Previous blogs have talked about the importance of pain control and body weight in order to manage arthritis in dogs. Another important consideration is the dog’s environment. This means looking at your home and the things your dog needs to be able to do and seeing if you can change anything to make things easier for them. Slippery floors should be covered with non-slip matting particularly where dogs turn corners into rooms or near steps. Ramps can be used to allow easier access in and out of the house and also to help with getting in and out of the car.This avoids the hard impact on joints caused by landing, particularly when jumping down. Ramps or steps can also be used if your dog likes to sleep on the sofa or your bed. Their own bed should be warm and supportive, away from drafts and should be big enough for them to lie at full stretch. Avoid covering beds with blankets as these can get caught around feet and legs which can be difficult for painful joints to get out of. Memory foam sleeping mats are really useful and can be used on top of existing beds, in crates and also in the car. For dogs that need to use the stairs it helps if they can wear a harness and get used to you controlling their speed on steps with a lead. Some specially designed harnesses have handles between the shoulders and near the hips to help you support the dog. A scarf held under the dog’s lower abdomen for going upstairs and under the chest for going downstairs can also be used to offer support and control speed.
Spend a few minutes looking at your house and daily activities as if through your dogs eyes and with painful, stiff joints in mind. Remember your dog is unlikely to tell you what hurts unless the pain is bad enough to stop them doing it so it’s up to you to anticipate what might hurt them and put measures in place to make things easier for them.