01254 53622(24 hour emergency)

Stiff? Limping? Struggling With Stairs?

old dog on white background

If your dog is lame, stiff, has difficulty rising, weak legs or has any other similar conditions make an appointment (01254 53622) to see one of our vets. There are lots of safe ways we can help your dog with any of these problems.

Old dogs can struggle to walk, limp, climb stairs and stand up after lying and can no longer do a circuit of the park or do their normal walks. This is most commonly due to aches, pains, arthritis and stiffness and less commonly due to spinal nerve degeneration (dogs with this often are unsteady on their hind quarters and place their hind feet poorly, they are particularly bad on smooth surfaces). 

Injuries or just wear and tear over time can result in damage to the joints. This leads to arthritis. The cartilage that lines joints and allows them to move smoothly gets worn away resulting in sore, creaky and swollen joints.

Pets with joint problems may be stiff after rest, lame when walking or just generally slow and reluctant to move. Cats may be even more sedentary than normal and may have problems grooming themselves, resulting in a poor coat.

How to help your dog with limb problems

WEIGHT LOSS. If your dog is overweight, weight loss can help a great deal. Less weight for the legs to carry! Aim for your dog to be slightly underweight if possible. You can use our waiting room scales free of charge to weigh your dog if you like. If you wish you could make an appointment with one of our nurses or vets who can advise you of how you can get your dog to lose weight and check for other problems too. Simply phone us to make an appointment.

STEADY, GENTLE EXERCISE, USE THE CAR FOR THE DIFFICULT BITS. Most stiff pets will benefit from doing some exercise. It is important to keep stiff joints mobile and to keep the weight down. Several short periods of moderate exercise a day are best. If the back legs are affected try a long, steady walk downhill (using your car for the uphill bits!). If the front legs are affected a long, steady walk uphill (using your car for the downhill bits!). Some older dogs don't want to go for walks. They are slow and difficult to get to walk. As soon as you turn for home they speed up and trot! Get a member of the family to drive you and your a short distance then walk home! Vary the routes to keep them interesting.

AVOID STAIRS. They are not designed for pets! Climbing stairs puts great strain on the back legs. Running down stairs severely strains the front legs. A determined pet will not give up trying to go upstairs just because it hurts! You can help by moving your pet’s bed downstairs or using a child's stair gate to prevent access. Carry small dogs with leg problems up and down stairs.

A COMFORTABLE BED. A comfy place to lie is important – older pets benefit form a warm draught free and supportive bed. 

SWIMMING. If your pet likes water then swimming can help build up muscle without stressing damaged joints. There are now several pet hydrotherapy facilities in Lancashire. If your pet is swimming in a river or open water make sure there is an easy access ramp for getting back out of the water.

Medical treatment

ANTI - INFLAMMATORIES (PAIN RELIEF). Most arthritic pets will require some medication to control their pain and the progression of the disease. Regular anti-inflammatory medication will control arthritis pain and allow a more normal life. These medicines work really well and are very safe in the majority of dogs. There are many good veterinary anti-inflammatories and pain relievers to choose from. Make an appointment with one of our vets who will examine your dog thoroughly and prescribe the best one for your dog.

JOINT REPAIR. We have an injection for arthritis that can actually help to heal damaged joints by renewing the cartilage. A course of 4 weekly injections can make a dramatic difference to a stiff pet. Many of our human clients ask if they can have some too!

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND SPECIAL FOOD. Many people take nutritional supplements to help with their own joint problems, and these are now also available for our pets. They contain substances like chondroitin, glucosamine and fish oils to help joints to repair themselves. Some petfoods now contain nutritional supplements and can work well in the right circumstances. They are usually marketed as joint health foods. The vet may advise you to use one of these products. However nutritional supplements are not an alternative to veterinary medicines. They are better to be used as supplementary treatments to help reduce the amount of medicine used. 

ANABOLIC STEROIDS. These are a type of medicine that help with muscle strength. Old pets can have weaker muscles. Sometimes our vets use these by injection when required. They can help pets feel great too.

NERVE CONDUCTION MEDICINES. We have lots of different medicines to help dogs with poor nerve control (see paragraph 2 above) of their limbs. This problem can never be cured but in some cases they can work very well.

William John Davies, Daisy Street Vets, 18th January 2017.


Page updated 17th Jul 2017, 11:35
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