Got Pets? In Flare? Here Are Some More Tricks for Same Level Care!
My first article ever for RheumatoidArthritis.net was about some quick tips on how to care for your pets when your RA is flared up.
I love animals. I cannot imagine living without them. They provide comfort, love and make me shake my tail feather even when I don’t want to. They keep me engaged, both mentally and physically, and my rheumatoid arthritis is better managed for it.
RA makes pet care difficult
Realistically, however, I cannot take care of them at 100 percent capacity all the time with this autoimmune condition. There are days I am too fatigued, painful, or nauseous to walk my dogs adequately. And, you know what? That’s okay. Dogs are resilient and adaptive. A few days here and there of less exercise is OK.
Exercise is an important part of pet care
I should of course mention that exercise is very important to a dog’s health and sometimes if they don’t get the exercise they are used to, they become bored and act out. My dog, Mocha, is that way. She barks, paces, and becomes anxious.
I needed to find ways to keep her active even when I couldn’t join her. I have compiled the ways I maintain the pet’s physical and mental needs without pushing myself past my limits.
3 tips for keeping pets physically active
I break the big walks into small little ones. This is also a helpful tip when it’s hot and animals just don’t have the stamina to stay outside. I do have to get some exercise or my flare is even worse, but I also don’t have the energy for those long walks. I can muster enough to walk down the block and back once, multiple times a day. It’s a much shorter distance, I get enough rest in between, and the dogs get the same amount of exercise.
2. A tether
I talked about the tether in the previous article, but I want to repeat it now. If you are fortunate to have a yard (fenced or not), a tether is a life-saver. I hook my dogs up to a long lead and let them run around the yard. It’s different, they have space to move freely, and I don’t have to walk!
In addition, I can just sit and throw toys or treats for them to increase their physical exertion without increasing mine.
If a yard is not an option, purchasing a long leash (30-60 feet) and finding a nearby field or park is a great alternative.
3. When outside is not an option
There are some days I just can’t even get outside. This is especially great for rainy days (hello, swollen joints) or extreme heat or cold (also triggers for me). I invested in a few types of toys: fetch balls, puzzle toys, and even yummy treats.
For fetch, I can sit comfortably in a chair and throw the toy. The dogs retrieve it and return it to me! Monica gets to stay in one place. Sometimes, the toy doesn’t keep my dogs’ attention for long so I just throw treats in different directions and they race after them. “Find it”: in this game, I hide treats all over the place and my dog has to find them. It keeps her mentally and physically engaged.
I especially like refillable treat-dispensing balls. I fill them with treats and let my dogs go wild. They have to push and pull and roll the ball around to get their yummy morsels.
Snuffle mats are also great because it taps into the dog’s scavenger instincts. They have to sniff around the mat for the food. It’s not as active an exercise for them, but it keeps the animals mentally occupied.
Do you have any other tips for exercising your pets during a flare? LMK in the comments!
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?