As our furry friends get older, the degeneration of movement and the onset of joint pain is inevitable – very similar to us puppy parents! But before you turn to expensive vet treatments, there are some easier ways to slow down, and even prevent, the beginning of joint issues and potential arthritis in your favourite pup!
Joint issues are a common problem in most ageing dogs, affectingover half of dogs over the age of 7, in the United Kingdom. With some dogs more prone to joint difficulties because of their breed; Labradors, German Shepherds,Newfoundlands, and Rottweilers, this discomfort is normally caused by the wear and tear of cartilage after years of jumping, running, and playing. As the cartilage deteriorates, it can develop into arthritis, leading to extremely painful joints which leaves your dog reluctant to move.
These types of joint problems are normally more common in larger dogs, as they bear more weight on their legs throughout their lifetime. But all dogs are at risk.
Mainly occurring in the hips and knees of your pet, joint pain, and arthritis can also affect the elbows and other joints, too, making it uncomfortable for your beloved pet to sit, lay, climb or walk.
But, it isn’t all bad - you can help slow down the degeneration of your dog’s joints in a number of ways, some of which can even prevent more damage occurring. Here are 5 ways to keep your pet’s joints healthy...
What your pet eats can have a huge impact on their overall health, weight, and development - especially the condition of their joints. If a large breed puppy overeats - with a Labrador that can happen quickly - they can become too heavy for their growing bones, and cause future joint conditions, too. Choosing the right diet for your pet will ensure they stay at a healthy weight, and prevent putting too much stress on their joints.
It’s not only the amount they eat but the nutrients they’re getting from their food. There are too many pet foods on the market that are packed with fillers and unnecessary additives, providing little to no nutrition for your pup.
Supplementing your dog’s diet is a great way to ensure they are taking in enough essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids to keep their joints healthy. A joint specific supplement containing glucosamine would be best.
Just like us humans, arthritis and other joint conditions can worsen if your pup is not using them enough. When your dog is in pain, hurting whenever they move, your dog will stop exercising, avoiding anything that will cause them pain. But, unfortunately, this lack of movement and physical activity will lead to their joints stiffening - causing more pain and discomfort...
Not to mention that they will also end up gaining weight, due to this lack of exercise, leading to more pressure on the joints - it’s a vicious circle for your poor pup.
Exercise is extremely important, even if they begin to suffer from discomfort and joint pain. The more they move, it’ll boost blood circulation, pumping natural lubrication to the needed, vulnerable areas – so making sure your pup continues with gentle movement and exercise can keep joints limber and flexible.
Severe joint issues can occur at any time in your pet’s life, but normally as they age. However, a lot of joint difficulties can develop as a result of injury; jumping too high, running too fast, taking a fall while their joints are still growing. Particularly when they are a puppy, your dog can get excited, running around like crazy -the zoomies! If they sustain an injury while ‘going crazy’, it can sometimes cause problems.
Make sure that, if your dog is still young, you prevent them from over-exercising their joints and always supervise their playtime. Make sure there aren’t any high platforms for them to jump off, and encourage calmer play with other dogs.
Dogs can often injure their joints by jumping off the sofa, sprinting into the yard too quickly, or even just running downstairs - they can hurt themselves as easily as we do. So, to try to avoid these injuries and make your home safer there are a few things you can implement;
Although accidents happen, the more you can do to reduce the risk of injury, the fewer issues you pup will experience with their joints in later life!
Following from Point 3 above, if you begin to notice your pup limping or putting less weight on a particular joint, go and see your vet immediately. If you’re able to get to the issue quickly, this can help prevent any future, permanent damage - hopefully, rectify the issue before it gets too bad.
By allowing your dog to properly heal and get the right treatment, you can alleviate bigger potential problems as your dog’s age. It can be hard to keep your pet relaxed and calm whilst they need to heal, but they could end up doing more damage if they try to run around before they’re ready.
So, no matter how old or young your pup is, they’re always vulnerable to joint difficulties and illnesses; such as arthritis and hip dysplasia. As their puppy parent, it is your job to make sure you do all that you can to make sure their hips and joints keep in a healthy, strong condition. Whether it is through their diet, adding a tasty supplement, or providing a safe space form them at home, there are plenty of things you can do to protect the health and function of your pup’s joints - helping them to live a long, happy life.