Certain types of exercise may help ease stiffness and pain in dogs with arthritis, a new study suggests.
Using a special treadmill and a computer program, Austrian researchers examined the movements of joints in the front and back legs of dogs as they did three types of exercises: walking uphill, walking downhill and walking over low obstacles.
They concluded that walking downhill doesn't appear to provide much benefit but walking uphill and climbing over low obstacles could both help dogs with arthritis.
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Walking uphill may improve the flexibility of affected joints, particularly of the hip, while walking over low obstacles may improve the bending of the joints in the front and rear limbs, said the team at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.
Researchers caution that dogs who have recently undergone surgery to the tibia, however, should probably avoid walking over obstacles since that could potentially strain the tendon that joins the knee to the shin.
They added that the exercises don't require expensive equipment, are simple and can easily be supervised by dog owners.
"These types of exercises are often recommended to improve the flexibility of joints in arthritic dogs. Nobody has yet taken the trouble to test whether they work but we are happy to report that they are of real benefit to the animals," researcher Barbara Bockstahler said in a university news release.
The study appears in the American Journal of Veterinary Research. (September 2010)