As dogs get older, they are often prone to problems with their joints. Dogs can develop arthritis in their spines, hips, shoulders, elbows and knees. Arthritic dogs move more slowly than they used to, avoiding jumping up and down and requiring more attention from their owners. Dogs with arthritis can be mildly painful or downright painful. In any case, they need our extra attention and care.
So the most pressing question I hear from arthritic dog parents is always: What can I do for my furry child? In fact, taking the time to do some simple stretching exercises with your beloved dogs every day can help reduce their joint pain and increase their mobility.

Tips for Stretch Success

Before we start the actual workout, here are some tips to keep in mind for a successful stretch with your dog:

Persistence is key. Stretching for a few minutes every day is better than a high-intensity, concentrated workout once a week.

Stretch slowly and gently.

The dog owner should always pay attention to the dog's feelings. If there are any symptoms of discomfort to stop in time.

Choose the right environment for your dog to stretch and relax.

The 3 Key Stretches: Hips, Shoulders, and Back

There are 3 areas of the body for which stretching is especially beneficial in arthritic dogs: the hips, shoulders, and back. The following are 3 of my favorite simple stretches you can do in just a few minutes each day, one for each key area.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Shoulder Flexor Stretch

Back Stretch

#1: Hip Flexor Stretch for Arthritic Dogs

The Method

First keep the dog in a lie down position. Make sure the hind legs are folded relative to the body, similar to the Sphinx. The owner can stand in front of the dog with a little food.
The key to the success of the training is to take a step back when the dog is standing, so that the dog goes directly from lying down to a standing position, without sitting in the middle. To get the best results and engage the core muscles in the exercise, dog needs to repeatedly lie down, stand up and not move backwards or forwards. Note that the feet remain in the same position as the body moves. Do 3 to 5 reps on the first day, then 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

The Results

The purpose of this exercise is to improve or maintain muscle strength and active range of motion, especially for strengthening the gluteal muscles. Can be used as an entry-level core strength training. Consistent practice of this stretch will assist with increased mobility of the hips and spine, improved condition of the lower back, and decreased pain associated with arthritis.

#2: Shoulder Flexor Stretch for Arthritic Dogs

The Method

With your dog standing, grasp one of their front legs just above the elbow with one of your hands.
Place your other hand under the elbow to stabilize it.
Slowly move the front leg so it is positioned out in front of your dog’s body.
When you reach the point of resistance (where moving the leg further forward would require pressure), stop and hold the leg in position for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2 or 3 times for each front leg.

The Results

Consistent practice of this stretch will improve range of motion in the shoulders, chest, and upper back, increase breathing capacity, and decrease pain associated with arthritis.

#3: Back Stretch for Arthritic Dogs

The Method

Raise one front leg and the opposite hind leg so that the dog can stand on two legs. Stretch the front legs forward and the back legs back. Hold the legs off the ground for 5 to 10 seconds, then lower them to allow the dog to rest. Repeat 3 to 5 times a day.
Gradually transition to leg lifts for 30 seconds. Repeat 8 times. 3 times a day. Then repeat with the other two legs. In addition, the dog can exercise balance and core stability by twisting both legs while they are in the air. But the dog should be able to stand on both legs for about 30 seconds before doing the twist.

The Results

Also known as standing on two legs, this exercise is designed to improve core muscle strength and balance. It can be used to strengthen the muscles of weak limbs. Consistent practice of this stretch will help improve mobility of the spine and decrease pain associated with arthritis.

Bonus Treat: Back and Sacrum Massage for Arthritic Dog and Heat Therapy

Back and Sacrum Massage for Arthritic Dog

The Method

How to massage a dog with arthritis?
Get the dog in a comfortable position on a soft mat. Start by stroking dog’s whole body, then gently stroking the affected areas, usually the hips, waist and knees, with very light force. This technique, called Effleurage, helps promote recycling and waste removal. Gently massage the area around the joint, avoiding putting pressure on the joint itself, which can increase inflammation. You can gently rub the dog's skin to create friction, alternating smooth strokes to encourage waste removal. Pay attention to your dog's reactions, and if he seems to be in pain, ease the touch. Start with 5-10 minutes, preferably twice a day, once in the morning to warm up a dog that has not moved all night, and again in the evening.

The Results

Massage improves blood flow and can greatly help relieve the discomfort, stiffness and muscle tightness associated with arthritis. Consistent practice of this massage will help improve the flow of spinal fluid, increase mobility of the spine and hips, and decrease anxiety.

Heat Therapy for Arthritic Dog

The Method

Heat therapy is an easy, inexpensive, and medication-free way to relieve some types of arthritis stiffness and pain. You can help relieve your dog's pain by gently covering the area with a hot towel. You can also get a hot water bottle at a moderate temperature or put your dog in a heating brace. Heating therapy brace can effectively reduce joint pain and muscle spasms in dogs, improve the elasticity of fibrous tissue, and help blood vessels dilate. It's safer to wear a heating brace which your dog can easily wear and improve circulation without even realizing it.

The Results

Heat therapy can encourage the healing of damaged tissue. Warmth causes the blood vessels of the muscles to dilate, which increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. Typically cartilage cannot be re-grown, but heat may aid repair to other damaged tissues.
Heat therapy can decrease joint stiffness. Warmth increases the pliability of the muscles and connective tissue, which increases joint flexibility and decreases joint stiffness.

In addition to encouraging the healing of damaged tissue and reducing joint stiffness, heat therapy stimulates joint fluid and distracts the brain from pain.

Using a heating therapy brace can help dogs with arthritis warm the joints, followed by gentle bending and flexing, can spur joint fluid production, which increases joint lubrication and the delivery of nutrients to joint tissue. The comforting warmth can stimulate sensory receptors in the skin and decrease the transmissions of pain signals to the brain.