Pros and cons of dog/ puppy with RA

Hi all, I'm inviting views from those of you with dogs and RA about how this has been for you - what is good about having your dog, helpful, difficult (due to the RA or otherwise), things you wish you had known etc. Especially interested in anyone who has had a new puppy while managing RA. Thanks in advance for helpful info. Many thanks

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  • I wouldn't be without one! We got our current dog a couple of years after I was diagnosed, so the disease was pretty well controlled by them.

    Ok so he's hairy, which means I have to hoover lots. But frankly if not for the dog hair I would probably live in a slum as housework is not my thing. So having a hairy dog has motivated me to maintain some sense of pride. But think about hair....

    He's energetic (he's an Australian shepherd) so needs a couple of hours walk a day and mental stimulation. Again I feel he's kept me moving. I feel a bit sad as he loves agility, and I'm not fast or agile enough to do it with him. But walking is a great exercise for RA. But make sure your dog matches your energy levels. This breed is good for us as he needs exercise during the day, but then is very calm in the evenings.

    He was a very lively, wiggly, jumpy puppy. So we did try to be very disciplined with him from the start. Having RA means I couldn't chase after him or move quickly to rescue things, so we wanted an obedient dog. It sort of worked, but he was so adorable we were perhaps a little lenient. if I had the time again I would do more on training from day one as although he'll do what you tell him, he does it in his own time.... He's 28kg and strong, so I couldn't hold him if he wasn't so good. So you do need to consider that.

    We crate trained him from day one, and he has NEVER made a mess of any sort in the house, so I would really recommend that. And we went to puppy school as soon as he was able, to make sure he was good around other dogs as well as to help with training, and that's something I would recommend.

    But to me dogs & RA are a great match. And he keeps my feet warm.

  • I couldn't agree more with Helix, my story is quite similar apart from the fact my dogs were rescue and very slightly older when we first got them...I wouldn't be without them as they keep me motivated and take the focus off wallowing in self pity as they need me as much as I need them! One of my dogs is quite big so I'm unable to take the pair of them out on my own anymore as she can pull a bit especially if she sees a cat or a squirrel .but fortunately both are excellent off the lead. Exercise is good for us and with having a dog you will get plenty of that!

  • Hi,

    I agree with the others. We have five dogs, four horses, five sheep, a goat, two pigs, two rabbits, two ferrets, a giant African Landsnail, 3 rats, 4 cats, too many chickens to count, 4 geese... And four kids! Wouldn't be without any of them, whatever the pain ( though we do have land, so walking isn't a prob). My main jobs are around the horses, geese and chickens- they make me push on whatever agony I'm in x Go for it- but research it and get the right kind of dog for you. Greyhounds and whippets only need about twenty mins a day- they like to sleep! X

  • Thank you all for positive replies! So encouraging!

    We have done masses of research as were well down the road to dog decision when RA joined the picture. Gone for a low shedder so less hoovering and also as hubby has (controlled) dust allergy so hopefully less chance to contribute to that with a low shedder. Due to RA we changed breeds we were considering and have gone much smaller (so less heavy on lead etc) with low exercise needs (30 mins a day) as I am cautious about managing if/when feet/knees flare up. Now we have found Havanese pup and plan to crate train and obedience train from the outset as I do so agree, I need a dog that is well under control to mitigate me being less speedy etc due to RA. Regardless of the RA I would aim for a dog that listened anyway ;-)

    I grew up with lots of dogs (as mum bred spaniels and we had a rescue wolfhound cross and a Cocker) and other animals so am not ignorant about needs and commitment, but obviously still a different and big commitment once have your own dog as an adult.

    We did look at whippets etc LizzieR but in the end went smaller etc as above.

    Thanks again. May be looking for puppy help once he arrives!

    Also like the idea of soft furry ball to warm feet. And positive focus for whole family beyond RA .

  • Didn't know what a Havenese was, so looked it up. Very appealing little bundle! Seems they are double coated like ours, so you brush using a slightly different technique as need to lift up top coat to get at the undercoat. But the birds love it to make nests with, and I find the idea of baby blue tits tucked up in furry nests delightful.

    When he was a wiggly puppy it was a nightmare trying to brush him. But we persevered with training him and now he stands quietly while I slowly brush him, and I find it very soothing.

  • I would echo helix points. I have had Westies for 27 years. Had I not had a dog I honestly believe I would not be as fit.

    You have to go out on the days when you think I do not want to because I am sore. Yes it may not be as far but you do and enjoy it, meet other people and forget your problems.

    I also go to dog training from day one so you have a dog that is well behaved and will come back. ( well in our case when they have chased a squirell)

    Westies pros and cons not much hair shedding, small enough when older to lift in a car, but training you are bending more. They are intelligent mine takes my socks off. They do like a fair amountof exercise. On the days you struggle you can do mental exercise with them. Hiding treats in the garden .

    The love they give you is priceless. They also understand when you need more cuddles.

    You are on the right tracks with researching the right breed for you.

    Good luck you will make the right decision. By the way ours are 5 and 15. When I went to training with the younger one our trainer adapted the training for me.

  • The joy my dogs bring me is beyond words. They are the best tonic on bad days! 😊

  • I would not be without my bichon frise and he needs a walk each day so it makes me go out even though I may feel unwell.He is small enough to sit with me,does not moult and is the best companion anyone could wish for. I hope you feel the same about your dog, good luck.😊

  • The hardest adjustment for me was placing my one year old Pomeranian. I could no longer pick him up or brush him. I still have two girls. Cuddles is a Havenese and Tia , a long haired chihuahua. They are very lethargic most of the time. They are happy sitting on the sofa all day lol I walk a lot more because of them. It motivates you to keep moving which is good. My Bits is in a home filled with other Pomeranians and a loving care taker. He has become pack leader and loving it. My heart goes out to all the young mothers with RD. It must be so difficult meeting the needs of small children. I do not know if I could manage without my dogs. My suragate grandchildren lol I have a strong need to nurture.

  • I had been diagnosed for a couple of years before I got my gorgeous cocker spaniel puppy.

    I live on my own and thought long and hard about whether a dog was right for me - I have had dogs most of my life so understood the commitment. I worried about whether I would cope.

    I couldn't be without her, she is undoubtedly the absolute best thing in my world.

    I walk loads which sometimes hurts (I have been assured I'm not doing any damage, just aching a lot). The benefits - mentally, physically and emotionally are endless.

    From puppy days we both increased walk length and duration, you have to build up gradually - this helped me get fitter gradually too. We now walk at least 5 miles a day 😀

    She is coming up to two - I can't imagine life without her.

    From day one the training started and to be honest it has been a breeze.

    She is only tiny - 9kg, so manageable for lifting in and out of the car, over styles etc. Despite being a bit of a woolly mammoth in between haircuts she doesn't shed any hair and is no trouble at all. Recall was an impirtant lesson early on, so I've never had to chase after her.

    Best medicine ever!

    Hope you enjoy your new addition as much as I have enjoyed my furry companion xx

  • I have a whippet x poodle they are great, very intelligent, non shedding, don't like long walks. Unfortunately he fell in love with the farm collie who also moved in. He's the sweetest dog, but of course energetic.

    The reality is though they force me to exercise, rain or sun, pain or extreme pain. They keep me moving. At least half hour morning and an hour in the evening.

    If it gets room much I let the dog sitter have them for the day.

    I was diagnosed last seprember and have been allergic to all treatment so far and my aggressive RA I'd being left to do as much damage as possible. Without my dogs I probably would have seized up completely

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