Most days, it may seem your dog has more energy than you do. They certainly make a great running partner (whether you planned to run or not). Unfortunately, as they get older, your dog can start to have trouble with his or her joints.
Typically, joint pain in dogs is either caused by osteoarthritis, which is a breakdown of the joint tissues like the ligaments over time, or hip dysplasia, which means your dog's hip socket(s) isn't properly formed, leading to arthritis and other forms of injury.
Common treatments for these conditions includes steroids, surgery and other therapies, which may come with their own side effects and can be quite expensive. But don't fret, there are steps you can take now to prevent joint problems later on in your dog's life:
1. Understand your dog's breed.
Every individual dog is different and so is every dog breed. Research can help you learn more about what to expect as your pet gets older. This can help you make important decisions regarding their nutrition that can prevent joint issues later on in life. In general, larger dogs are more likely to develop joint problems, however, the location, type and severity can be different between different breeds.
2. Pay attention to the signs.
Even though they can't talk to you, you know your dog better than anyone and can tell when they're not being themselves. If you notice changes in your pet's behavior or activity level, it's time to start taking notes and checking for patterns. If they seem to favor one leg, move away when you try to touch a certain leg, have difficulty climbing stairs or move more slowly in general, it may be time to get them checked.
3. Engage them in regular exercise.
Keeping your pet moving while they're young is important for joint health and to keep them at a healthy weight. The more lean muscle mass the dog has, the better they will move and the more support they'll have for their joints. As your pet gets older, this activity may have to be modified to methods that are less stressful on their joints.
4. Nourish their joints.
Good nutrition from the start is key to a healthy, happy pet and there are certain extracts and nutrients that can be especially beneficial for the joints. For example, fish oil has anti-inflammatory benefits that can reduce swelling and pain thanks to the presence of essential fatty acids and glucosamine/chondroitin can help strengthen arthritic joints. Supplements for joint health may also include cartilage, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) and antioxidants that protect the joints from the oxidative stress and damage of free radicals.
5. Make it easier for them.
As your dog gets older, moving around your house can become more challenging for them, so make sure their food and water is easily accessible. Steps, ramps, carpet and rugs are also great home additions that can make getting around easier for an aging pet.
6. Get them to a healthy weight.
If your pet is overweight, that can put strain on their joints. Your vet can help you adjust their diet and modify their activities to help you get them back in the desired weight range for their size and breed throughout their lives.
By taking these precautions, you can help prevent your dog from developing serious joint issues. Shop for everything you need to keep your best friend feeling their best at eVitamins!