**BONUS** - As I posted online, there are MORE than 5!
In fact, this is an inconclusive list but a list that's been proven - ESPECIALLY #1 & #2.
Let's start with the #1 and most important: HEALTHY BODY WEIGHT! Yes, this probably means losing weight. Sadly the majority of pets (worldwide) are overweight, yet their owners don't think they are, which makes this even MORE of an uncomfortable situation. The more weight, the more stress on the body and the body's joints. Cutting back on treats (how about brushing, massaging and petting instead?) and even 10-20% of their feeding will make a huge difference.
#2 PHYSICAL ACTIVITY (aka exercise) - This should be "controlled" physical activity, which means exercises that are not just cardio (i.e., running off lead) but also include a strengthening component. And importantly, these activities are CONSISTENT.
#3 NSAIDs (Non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs) - Yes, these have come a long way in recent years. You would have no issue reaching for an Advil or Naproxen for yourself, right? If you haven't had a conversation with your doctor recently about these, it's time.
#4 HOME & LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS - These are exactly what they sound like: looking at how your pet eats, gets in/out of the car, on/off the bed, when they eat...etc. There are many little things (free or low-cost too) you can do RIGHT NOW that will help your pet live healthier and feel better. If you're not sure, ASK!
#5 SUPPLEMENTS - Just like with NSAIDs, if you haven't checked into supplements (what kind, how much...), you are overdue! Things like: fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, collagen, avocado & soybean extract...etc.
#6 NON-FOOD & PHARMACEUTICAL OPTIONS - Physical rehabilitation! Having a consult is a small price to pay (literally) for your pet's comfort and will go a long way towards saving you money in the future. Using things like: heat application or cold (& knowing which/why), Laser, electrical stimulation (PEMF, Assisi, BEMER...), Range of Motion (how/why/when), and even good ol' brushing and grooming will help arthritic conditions.
Here's the kicker: THIS APPLIES TO THE PERSON READING THIS TOO!
What have you tried or are currently doing for your pet? Or for you?