Why you should take care of your dog’s joints?
Often referred to as arthritis, joint pain is a physical condition that not only affects middle-aged dogs but also younger dogs too. Joint pain can often take time to manifest, meaning it might be quite some time before you realise that your dog might be experiencing joint pain and in some level of discomfort.
The onus is on you as their owner and guardian to keep a look out for tell-tale signs of joint pain so that it can be detected whilst still being in the early stages. Joint pain in dogs can be non-inflammatory as a result of trauma for example or developmental issues. In contrast, inflammatory joint pain is arthritic in nature and can cause plenty of agony to your dog.
What are the most common symptoms of joint problems in dogs?
- Stiffness, limping or "slowing down"
- Lagging behind on walks
- Slipping while moving around
- Slower to get up in the morning
- Sleeping more and general lethargy
- Not enjoying games and walks like he used to
- Reluctance to jump into the car or go up or down stairs
- Excessive licking of a sore joint
- Muscular atrophy – especially muscle loss in elderly dogs
Did you know...Hip and elbow dysplasia in dogs can cause abnormal growth in the hip joint which can be very painful and have serious effects on your dog’s health and behaviour.
At what age are joint issues most likely to develop in my dog?
Joint pain can occur in dogs of all ages.
It may sound surprising, but even younger dogs can benefit from some extra help with supporting their joints. We all know that pups bounce around with a ‘spring’ in their step … running up and down the stairs, leaping into the back of the car or hurling themselves after a ball in the park. Younger dogs have more joint fluid helping to cushion the bones in their legs and hips, but their higher levels of activity could also lead to more problems with pulls or even tears in the ligaments, muscles and tendons around their joints.
People often say that 1 dog year is equivalent to 7 human years, suggesting that your dog is perhaps ‘older than you realise’ and studies suggest that dogs age at different rates too. So even your bouncy pup might benefit from joint support sooner than you might think.
By the time your dog reaches the age of 7, he may be considered a ‘senior’. However, don’t forget that breed and size is an important factor too. Very large breeds are generally considered to ‘age’ more quickly than smaller breeds so a Great Dane might be considered a senior by the age of 6 while a tiny Chihuahua can be 8 or 9 years old. There are other factors too, of course, that affect how rapidly a dog ‘ages’ – such as its genetics and living environment. But most of us would perhaps consider our beloved pet a senior as he starts to show signs of age-related health problems such as joint pain and stiffness where it’s especially important to look after his joints.
As a dog owner, how can I support my dog’s mobility and alleviate joint pain?
It’s never too early to proactively take care of your dog’s joint health.
Healthy nutrition can help with joint problems. Ensure your dog has a healthy, nutrient-rich dog food helping to maintain a healthy weight. Even a bit of weight gain in dogs can put a lot of stress on joints and lead to inflammation, which is why managing your pooch’s weight is super important.
Make sure you maintain appropriate levels of exercise. Despite the fact that joint pain can often hinder movement, a bit of light exercise will serve to keep your dog mobile and act as a mood booster too!
Supplement your dog’s diet with glucosamine to promote mobility and elasticity.