Unfortunately, arthritis is said to affect 20% of dogs in the U.S. and affects most elderly dogs to some extent. Learn easy remedies for dog arthritis to ease your pup’s joint pain and keep her comfortable.

By now you’ve got the news. Last week’s tip on arthritis put all the facts out there – arthritis affects one in five adult dogs in the U.S. You know how to prevent and identify sore joints in your pup. But now what? Your first stop should always be your vet. Make sure to ask about all treatment options available from prescription medications to natural remedies.

Along with a balanced diet, weight maintenance, and regular exercise, many vets encourage the use of natural products to ease joint pain and keep their pup patients comfortable. Whether it’s in addition to medication or used exclusively, natural choices can make a difference in the care and management of your dog’s arthritis. For the facts on which ones really work, Woof Report sat down with certified Small Animal Massage Practitioner and Certified Massage Therapist, Shelah Barr.

Warm Up Pup

Relieve stiff joints and muscles with the power of heat. Just five to fifteen minutes at a time resting on a well-insulated hot water bottle can ease your pup’s pain. The damp heat, not boiling of course, restores a more fluid function to the muscles and joints while keeping your dog warm and cozy. Fleece or heat-generating/insulated heating blankets on surfaces your dog rests on get the job done too.

Snooze Softly

Cozy bedding with soft surfaces cushions your dog’s sore joints and helps to keep them warm. Add some cushioning to the beds and your dog’s favorite nap spots to make them more comfy.

Don’t Slip Up

Doggies with arthritis tend to stiffen up, making them less confident on their paws. That’s why it’s important to make their walking spaces easy for them to negotiate. Consider adding non-skid rugs and pads to your floors. This simple change can prevent pup slips and give your dog the confidence to relax and walk more comfortably from her food bowl to her dog bed and back again.

Stick with the Paw

Better than making the surfaces in your home non-skid, make your dog non-skid with stick-on paw pads. These breathable paw pads add traction with each step. Just apply one directly to each paw and the medical grade stickum adheres safely for slip-free roaming indoors and out. Find them on amazon.com.

Rub a Pup

Everybody loves a massage. Your dog’s first in line for a gentle rubdown to soothe sore joints and relax. A professional canine massage can really do wonders for arthritic dogs. A skilled pooch masseuse can relieve fluid buildup, reduce stiffness, decrease pain and inflammation and stimulate your dog’s muscles, all helping your sweet pup feel a whole lot better.

Chow Up

Release the strain on your dog’s neck at mealtimes by elevating her food bowl. A little step or table for the food and water bowls helps keep your dog’s neck and head aligned and comfortable while she dines.

Make Friends with High Places

Jumping and climbing often equal pain for arthritic dogs. But you can pave a pain-free path to their beds, the car, any elevated spot by adding a ramp. Portable or permanent ramps are easy to use and help keep your best friend’s routine in full swing. You can also carry a small dog in a dog carrier that offers support, and provide support for larger dogs with doggie slings and harnesses available in all sizes.

Brace Yourself

Your dog may be a good candidate for the added stability of joint braces. Ask your vet if these common aids could increase your dog’s mobility and slow joint deterioration.

The Scoop:

Read last week’s tip about identifying and preventing canine arthritis.

Thank you to San Francisco’s Happy Hounds Massage for assistance with this tip. Happy Hounds Massage offers a full range of manual therapies for small animals, specializing in canines. Founder Shelah Barr is a certified Small Animal Massage Practitioner, Certified Massage Therapist and Advanced Bodyworker.

Originally published May 2010; reviewed and updated May 2016.