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Hi there,

I have an 8 1/2 year old Lab/Spaniel mix who recently started showing signs moderately severe arthritis. 3 months ago we went to the vet about it, and started a regimen of weight loss (yes I am guilty of over-indulging my pooch), joint supplements, and pain relief. I cut her food down significantly and started feeding her a very good glucosamine chondroitin supplement. She also by suggestion of our vet gets a baby aspirin every other day. I was also given Tramadol for days when she gets really sore. We then started upping our walking. Things were going really well. We were up to 2.3 miles every morning without issue, she had lost weight, and she was able to play more than she had in the past without any signs of pain.

A couple of weeks ago I got injured and haven't been able to take her on as long of walks so I could heal. This week we started up again, taking it slow for both of us, and all of a sudden yesterday she started having trouble with stairs (didn't see this before) and getting on furniture (only saw this when she was very sore). I gave her the first Tramadol we'd needed to use, and kept her resting. We went on a very short walk before bed and I made sure she had access to her best dog bed.

My hope is that we just started too quick or she tweaked something and will improve to her previous state, but it got me thinking further into the matter.

I'm hoping you all could help me with suggestions on products, exercise plans, treatment plans, etc. that have helped you in the past. Some of the questions that have come to mind:

How much exercise is too much?
How fast can I increase exercise?

I ask some of these questions because while she yelps trying to get on the furniture and is obviously in pain going up stairs, she walks and jogs on our walks like she's never felt better. I do keep her on a short leash so she's not running unnecessarily.

Are there any products out there you've found to help? I've read heat/ice can help just like with people. And I have friends with horses that use the Back on Track blankets and love them. I've also considered massage, but am not sure what will help most.

I am also worried about ramps since she's obviously having trouble with stairs - how much will they actually help?

So to keep myself from rambling further... Any tips, suggestions, plans, words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated.
 

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As the previous mom to a senior, I can tell you that rugs will be your friend. As Gemma's arthritis got worse, she would really slip on wood floors. I bought a bunch of area rugs that had traction on the back and made walkways throughout the house. I also got washable ones since she also got incontinent as she got older.

Another thing I used with her was the ruffwear harness. When getting up became difficult, I was able to help her a bit by lifting the handle.
 

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I noticed a big difference when I switched Ash off of the baby aspirin and gave him one tailored specifically for dogs. He is not on tramadol or any other pain reliever, just his joint supplement. Once I switched to the dog aspirin (well, a few weeks in really) he seemed to be feeling better. So the formula might work better for your lab too.

Ashenpaw is on 1 dog aspirin twice a day, he's a nine year old athletic border collie diagnosed with osteo-arthritis. His vet encourages me to keep running him as long as his body can handle it.

If you do decide to switch-ALWAYS check with your vet on proper dosages for your dog's medical conditions. Just because Ash takes two aspirin a day does not mean every dog out there can.
 

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I'd take her back to the vet to make sure that nothing else is going on that's making getting on and off furniture, and up and down stairs, painful. She could have a slipped disk or something like that.

Exercise her on soft surfaces like grass or dirt rather then concrete so that it's easier on her joints.

If you have somewhere she can swim that will be the best exercise for her, it's the easiest on joints and very good for arthritis suffers.

If she's limping badly later in the day or the next day then she did to much and for her next exercise session take it easier.

Walking is best but if she's like my boy was and keeping her to a walk is impossible because she truly believes her two speeds are fast and stop then do your best to not let her go faster then a jog. My boy would be very sore the next day if I let him run more then a few 50 yards.

Yes ramps do help, they lessen the pounding on the joints that happens when dogs go up and down the steps. The ya got the ones like my boy who believed he could still jump down the steps at age 16. Ramps will also prevent a misstep that could cause her to fall going up or down the steps.

If she'll use one consider an orthopedic bed made for older arthritic dogs.
 
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I noticed a big difference when I switched Ash off of the baby aspirin and gave him one tailored specifically for dogs. He is not on tramadol or any other pain reliever, just his joint supplement. Once I switched to the dog aspirin (well, a few weeks in really) he seemed to be feeling better. So the formula might work better for your lab too.

Ashenpaw is on 1 dog aspirin twice a day, he's a nine year old athletic border collie diagnosed with osteo-arthritis. His vet encourages me to keep running him as long as his body can handle it.

If you do decide to switch-ALWAYS check with your vet on proper dosages for your dog's medical conditions. Just because Ash takes two aspirin a day does not mean every dog out there can.

Good advice on the aspirin. Shadow was getting 1 baby aspirin every other day, but when he was put on Rimadyl I asked the vet about the aspirin and was told to take him off of it. Both those meds are NSAIDs.
 

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My beagle is a rescue so his age is a guess but most vets have him pegged between 9 and 10. I keep him at a good weight but age catches up with every dog sooner or later...

So I built him a set of tiny stairs going up to the couch and also my bed (yep, gave in on that one :p ) This helped a lot, when he was stiff first thing in the morning or late at night after a busy day, he struggled the most and this has seemed to really make a difference.

Also, I got kind of mixed reviews about it on here, but Horse Liniment can sometimes work as far as a topical solution goes. If you ask 100 people you'll get 100 answers on how much is too much/too little, how dangerous is it if your dog licks it, etc. My best advice would be ask your vet about using it, as he/she will know your dog's medical history, history of reactions to meds, etc.
 
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