"The goals of canine arthritis exercise and physical therapy
programs is to find an exercise routine that protects the joints from
excessive mechanical stress, while providing dogs with the exercise
they need to maintain good health. Recommended periods of rest and
exercise depend on each dog's clinical signs and level of pain.
Approaches such as swimming offer dogs the best of both worlds, the
ability to exercise with a minimal load on the joints. In addition to
swimming, Walking is a preferred form of exercise for
periods of 20 minutes or more depending on your pets strength. Some
exercise, even if it is slow and steady is always better than no
exercise. Make accommodations where needed such as soft surfaces like
grass instead of pavement."
Video on Canine Arthritis Exercise
Changes in a dog's exercise routine is one of the first questions
asked after arthritis is diagnosed.
This can be a difficult question to answer since exercise may
put too much strain on arthritic joints, while no exercise may
contribute to weight gain, muscle weakness and decreased joint
According to the anti-inflammatory drug Zubrin(tm), a low-impact canine arthritis exercise routine
has the following benefits for dogs with arthritis:
Exercise increases strength and stamina
It helps joint mobility
It aids weight management
Exercise stimulates joint cartilage metabolism
Decreases the need for pain relieving medications
This is different that what was once thought to be true where
was often restricted in patients with arthritis. However,
recent studies show that mild to moderate exercise helps to reduce dog
arthritis pain, and improves a dogs quality of life. Exercise should be
lower impact which includes walking and even swimming.
According to an article published by Denis J. Marcellin-Little DEDV,
dogs with osteoarthritis will benefit from activities such as "walking
and trotting, walking with resistance provided by water or elastic
bands, sit-to-stand exercises, swimming, and walking on an underwater
A dog massage can provide some
arthritis relief by warming the muscles, improving the range of motion
and reduce stiffness.
Low Impact Arthritis Exercise
A low impact canine arthritis exercise routine such as walking is an option. Start with
short walks on a leash for 10 to 20 minutes. Add time as your dog is
able. If your dog is unable to walk or has trouble standing.
you can help by slinging a towel under the belly and then pulling up on
both ends, lifting the dog into a standing position.
If your dog has osteoarthritis, it is possible that your dog's
level of pain will change depending on the day. You know your dog and
can see if he or she is excited to go for a walk or is acting lethargic.
Until you know your dog's condition you want to avoid
activities that strain the joints such as jumping (onto or off a couch
for example), stairs, running on hard surfaces such as the street, soft
services such as sand, catching games or spinning.
Many dogs just want to have fun, but health first, so
you need to be the parent of an active dog.
Arthritis Exercise Routine
10 Minutes - Warm Up
Spend 5 to 10 minutes in a slow warm up such as a slow paced
20-30 Minutes - Aerobic
Match activities to your dogs ability such as a fast leash
walk. Your dog could accompany you while you jog or even bike. Build up
to 5 days per week.
If you have access to a place where your dog can swim, it is
an excellent way to introduce low impact aerobic exercise.
20-30 Minutes - Play
Play is a great way to keep your dog active. Go with your dogs
favorite game, or play with a ball, Frisbee or anything else that keeps
your dog interest.
5-10 Minutes - Cool Off
Slow down the pace with a gentle walk and be sure to give your
Arthritis exercise for dog is an important part of their
Non Traditional Approaches to Helping a Dog with
Many of the approaches that have been proven helpful in people
are being used to help dogs with arthritis. These approaches and canine
arthritis exercise can be administered by a canine physical
therapist. Non traditional approaches include:
Canine massage may help to decrease muscle tension and pain.
It can also help to warm and relax tissues, decrease muscle
spasms, improve blood flow and improve flexibility. Massage can
also promote joint range of motion. In addition to the massage,
the use of a warm water bottle can help.
Video on Dog Massage
Dog Joint Mobilization:
This approach is involves the manual displacement of one bone to
another. Human studies have shown this approach to be helpful
in osteoarthritis of the knee.
often used in addition to other therapies in dogs.
This approach uses magnets to decrease muscle pain and improve
Physical Therapy: Many types
of conditions such as including
degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis or DJD) can be helped with physical therapy . Each program is tailored
to the dog's specific needs using sessions that last from 30 minutes to
one hour. Therapists are able to utilize tool such as underwater
treadmills that can, for example, compensate for 60% of the dog's
Dog Hydrotherapy Treadmill
Can Help A Dog Improve Strength While Limiting the Impact on Joints
Photo Credit: Janet D. Collins
Pain Management for Canine Osteoarthritis, P. Roudebush,
Nutrition, Inc., Topeka, KS, USA.
Benefits of physical therapy for osteoarthritic patients
Denis J. Marcellin-Little DEDV, Diplomate ACVS, Diplomate ECVS
College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University,
Raleigh, North Carolina