How to Make Life Easier for a Pug with Arthritis
Arthritis is a common occurrence as pugs age. It is quite often a result of them being so active when they are younger especially if they like to jump a lot. Jumping on and off objects like beds and lounges will put a lot of pressure on their joints and can cause injury or inflammation in their joints. As they get older, this wear and tear and build up of inflammation in their joints will cause them a lot of pain. More often than not, your pug will develop arthritis at some stage in their life. Some pugs are unlucky and suffer from a younger age or may even suffer from other joint issues like hip dysplasia. How do you know if your pug has arthritis and how can you make life easier for a pug with arthritis?
Arthritis is caused by inflammation in the joints I can hear you asking, “how do I know if my pug is suffering from arthritis?” There are a number of signs that your pug is suffering from this joint disease and should head to the vet for a check up. Here are some of the most common signs of a pug with arthritis:
- Limping – your pug may limp or favour one or more of their legs
- Difficulty in moving freely – this may mean they are slower to walk around or have a hard time getting up after sitting or lying down
- Tiredness – you may find them being more easily tired from activities such as going for walks and want to sleep more
- Irritability – you may find that your pug becomes cranky easily especially if you touch them near the painful areas
- Licking, chewing & biting – your pug may begin to lick, chew or bite the area that is painful for them which can result in inflamed skin and loss of hair
- Muscle atrophy – when a muscle is used less, the muscle mass can reduce and this will be visible through your pug having one thinner leg than another
Arthritis is a serious condition that needs to be managed in a number of ways. If you have access to the services, canine massage therapy can help your pug’s arthritis or hip dysplasia but for those that don’t have access to this kind of care then here is how you can make life easier for a pug with arthritis.
Work with your vet on a joint care plan
If you notice any of the symptoms of arthritis in your pug, you should take them to the vet for an assessment which can include blood tests, an X-ray and physical exam to determine if they are suffering from it. Once your pug has the diagnosis, your vet will work with you on a joint care plan. This will include a number of things. The first will be to assess the weight and body condition of your pug. Then there will be the medication to assist with your pugs joints. And then there is the joint supplements.
During this discussion, you will develop a plan with your vet that is important to follow. It is quite common for your pug to receive ongoing injections for the symptoms of arthritis and hip dysplasia. There are a number of drugs available for arthritis and your vet will choose the one they believe will be the most beneficial for your pug. You will be given a schedule of an initial treatment which will then be followed with a maintenance treatment plan.
Personal Experience: Serina’s schedule was one injection a week for 4 weeks followed by a maintenance plan of follow up injections every 3 months for the rest of her life. The injections are quick and painless but provide great benefit for her hips. A combination of injections and joint supplements mean quite often, you forget she has hip dysplasia.
Provide a daily natural joint supplement
A daily joint supplement will be essential to help keep your pug’s joints as painless as possible. There are so many joint supplements on the market and your vet can help you decide what the best supplement is. As I like to keep everything as natural as possible, I choose to add a natural joint supplement rather than a processed treat supplement.
There are plenty of options for joint supplements but here are just a few to look into further as to which will be the best for your pug’s arthritis management:
- Turmeric – turmeric is an incredible food that you can add to your pug’s diet. Combined with coconut oil and freshly ground black pepper, turmeric is this super powerful supplement. You can make up some Golden Paste and add it to each meal so your pug has a constant supply of this natural anti-inflammatory. And since arthritis is inflammation in the joints, turmeric could be just what you are looking for. Whether you make Golden Paste or use a pre-made option like Turmericle Powder, your pug’s joints are in good care with this supplement. Plus you will have some of the many amazing benefits of feeding turmeric.
- Rose hip – rose hip is another natural supplement that would be great to add to your pug’s joint care plan if you don’t want to use turmeric. It is a plant based anti-inflammatory and immune system support that will help treat inflammation to help maintain healthy joints. It can not only help with joint pain and mobility but it can prevent joint problems in dogs that don’t have any issues. Talk with your vet about how Rosehip Vital Canine could work in your pug’s joint care plan.
- Glucosamine – glucosamine is an important supplement to help maintain joint health. Your pug creates their own glucosamine naturally but some times this is just not enough to protect their joints. And as they get older, they produce less of it meaning they will need an extra boost of it. There are glucosamine supplements on the market but even better, there are a number of natural foods you can add for some extra glucosamine. Try adding some trachea, chicken, duck, turkey or goose feet, oxtails or pig tails, beef knuckle bones, green lipped mussels and bone broth to your pug’s diet.
- Ginger – ginger is great for the digestive system through relieving gas and nausea but it is also great for relieving arthritis pain. It does this by stopping the immune system from producing leukotrienes, which causes inflammation in the body. It can also help the circulation in older dogs with reduced mobility.
Before adding any of these supplements, speak with your vet as to any side affects that may occur if your pug is already on medications, has health problems such as diabetes or treat conditions.
Personal Experience: I feed Serina Turmericle Powder as her anti-inflammatory supplement that helps her hip dysplasia tremendously coupled with her arthritis injections. Recently, I had to stop the Turmericle Power in the lead up to some minor surgery as turmeric is a natural blood thinner. I removed it from her diet for the week leading up to the surgery. As she was also due for her arthritis injection, her hip joints became less stable than normal meaning she started limping and had even fallen over. Whilst it is not a usual task for her to not have her Turmericle Powder, I now know that it is the right supplement for her. When she is normally due for her arthritis injection and on her Turmericle Powder, there are no signs of her hips being less stable. I currently also feed duck feet and looking at adding even more natural glucosamine sources to her diet.
Create a fresh natural diet plan to keep weight off
We all know for ourselves that if we have excess weight our joints suffer for it. It is no different for pugs but if your pug has arthritis or hip dysplasia then excess weight is even more harmful to their joints. When you develop your pugs joint care plan with your vet, they will discuss with you the ideal weight for your pug. Now this may seem hard, but you will need to keep your pug skinny, anorexic even. It is in the best interest of your pug to work hard to achieve this and not give into the typical pug “I’m starving, I haven’t eaten in 5 years” look. I promise you, it is 100% achievable.
I honestly believe that a biologically appropriate raw food diet is the best approach to achieve such a goal. A balanced diet consisting of fresh raw meat, organ, raw meaty bones and fruit & vegetables will not only be a delicious and nutritious diet for your pug, it will also be the easiest way to help your pug lose weight and then maintain that healthy weight.
A diet filled with highly processed food will make it harder for your pug to lose weight and will also increase the amount of inflammation in the body. A pug with arthritis or hip dysplasia needs to reduce the inflammation to help ease the pain associated with the joint disease. A balanced diet of fresh food will do just this.
Personal Experience: Serina came to me weighing 13kg. Over the course of about 4 weeks, I transitioned her from a home cooked & kibble diet to a full raw diet. Once I worked out the right amount of food to feed her that kept her full without putting weight on her, I managed to get her weight down to 9.8kg. Yes she looks very skinny, but less weight is the best option for hips and I honestly believe I would not have been able to manage her weight so easily if it was not for feeding her a raw diet.
Buy pet stairs for furniture
If you are like me, you allow your pug to sit on the couch and sleep in the big bed. When your pug has arthritis, it is much more difficult for them to jump up on to the furniture they are allowed on. In many cases, you may find this a good thing but if you want to continue to allow your pug on these items, you will need to make it easier for them to get on to them. In comes the pet stairs.
The pet stairs will mean your pug is no longer having to jump meaning there is less stress and impact applied to their arthritic joints. You will want to keep your pug active as much as possible to prevent joint stiffness but you will also want to keep the activity easy for them. By introducing pet stairs, you are helping their every day movement to be made easier.
You can get pet stairs or ramps in various sizes depending on the height you need. Stick to stairs that are made of wood as they are much sturdier than ones made of foam and you don’t want your pug to slip on the stairs and cause injury. You can get pet stairs and ramps by searching on eBay or Amazon.
Personal Experience: I introduced pet stairs for Serina not long after I adopted her. I purchased a small set off eBay, put them together in no time and then she had easy access to the comforts of the lounge and I no longer had to worry how she would get onto the lounge. Whilst she mostly uses the stairs to get off the lounge, she does still jump off the lounge at times. I have recently added some bigger and heavier stairs that allow Serina to safely get up onto the bed which in turn saves my back having to lift her up onto the bed.
Arthritis can be prevented as much as possible from a young age but more often than not, it is common for your pug to develop arthritis as they get older or if they have suffered from an injury. With a combination of all of these tips, you now know how to make life easier for a pug with arthritis. Do you have a pug with stiff joints, arthritis or even hip dysplasia? If so, what is your pug’s joint care plan? Share your tips in the comments below.