We've all experienced the occasional aches and pains in our lives. Sometimes they are easy to power through while at other times they can be quite debilitating. As humans, we know what to do to make it better, but the same cannot be said for our beloved rabbit dogs. They cannot go grab some pain killers from the medicine cabinet or an ice pack from the freezer. Instead, they tell us of their pain the only way they know how and it is up to us to listen.
One of the most common pain ailments in dogs is arthritis. Though it predominantly affects large breeds, that is not exclusively the case and it is very possible that beagles may be plagued by arthritis as well. The way arthritis works is when cartilage in the joints (hip, knee, elbow, shoulder) begins to break down and bones begin to rub. When this happens, pain begins. This typically occurs as dogs age but there are other issues that may bring it on more quickly such as being overweight or experiencing a joint injury.
Signs of canine arthritis are easy to spot and the sooner we take note, the sooner our rabbit dogs can be put on a regimen that will keep them more comfortable. Some behaviors you might see in an arthritic dog include difficulty rising or getting around, limping or favoring, moving at a slower pace than usual, whimpering or yelping upon movement, aggression, licking, and loss of interest in play, walks, or even chasing rabbits. Once you've started to see these changes, chances are you have a case of canine arthritis on your hands. Though this cannot be reversed, there are things that can be done to lessen the pain and make your dog's life enjoyable once again.
Photo: Holistic Veterinary Consultants
First and foremost you must keep arthritic dogs at a healthy weight. Any excess weight will put added pressure on painful joints and can ever accelerate arthritis, so keep your dog at an ideal weight for his or her body. Even though it may sound tough, another arthritis enemy is a sedentary lifestyle. Your dog may want to lounge around rather than get exercise, but exercise is actually very helpful in combatting arthritis pain because it keeps joints from becoming stiff.
Also useful are vitamins and supplements that boost joint health. The most widely recommended is glucosamine with chondroitin which helps build synovial fluid, a lubricant, in the joints and will therefore reduce the arthritis pain of bone on bone contact. Over time, glucosamine can actually help the body build and repair cartilage, giving back to your dog the freedom to move. Be sure to purchase a formula that is intended for dogs so there are no toxic additives present; consult with your vet for recommendations and dosing appropriate for your particular dog. Your vet can also recommend and prescribe medications to ease the pain, such as Previcox.
Though it is heartbreaking to watch our rabbit dogs suffer with any kind of ailment, arthritis is especially tough because the will to go is still there but pain stands in the way. By taking precautions to protect joints through weight control and supplementing supportively as dogs age, you can maintain a quality of life that allows for older rabbit dogs to still enjoy themselves in the field. All it takes is investing a little extra much deserved maintenance to keep our canine counterparts feeling their best.
Have you had rabbit dogs plagued by arthritis? What did you find that helped ease their pain and get them moving again? Let us know in the comments!