Bella is a 13-year-old shepherd-lab cross. Although she seems to be a fairly active farm dog, her owners have noticed she has slowed down substantially from her younger days. Bella gets up more slowly, spends a lot of time inside in the winter, and does not roam as far from the house as she once did. She is starting to suffer from arthritis. Her owner decides one day that she needs a bath, as she spends so much time in the house now, and she is starting to smell very much like the farm dog she is. So a bath is run, and Bella’s owner bends down to pick her up. Much to her owner's surprise, when she goes to lift Bella, Bella growls and snaps at her! Bella has never done anything like that before, it is quite a shock.
A dog with arthritis like Bella can act unexpectedly due to pain, discomfort, and anxiety about being handled. Bathing a dog with arthritis will require some adjustments for the dog's mobility issues to make it comfortable for your dog and to avoid unexpected, even dangerous, behaviors.
When a dog with arthritis is experiencing joint pain, manipulation and strain on those joints can be painful and frightening for your dog. The dog may feel insecure, especially when in a strange environment like a bathtub, or when being picked up or handled. In addition, a slippery bathtub may make your arthritic dog feel that she is in danger of slipping, which she has learned is a lot more painful then it was before she had arthritis. Making adjustments to help your dog feel secure and minimize discomfort will be necessary, in order for your dog to be comfortable being bathed.