Many dog lovers are familiar with the sad sight of an elderly dog struggling to move due to joint pain and stiffness. You may even have had the difficult experience of watching your own much-loved pet suffer this way.
Joint issues are very common in dogs, and can actually affect canines of all ages - not just older ones. In fact, you might be surprised to know that 70% of joint diseases are developmental, and 22% of arthritis cases occur in dogs under one year of age.
There are two main types of joint problems in dogs: developmental and degenerative.
These kinds of joint problems occur as the dog is developing (the clue’s in the name!).
One of the most common is hip or elbow dysplasia. This happens when the joint does not form properly. It causes a reduced range of motion and pain.
It is most commonly seen in young dogs of large and very large breeds. If your dog has joint dysplasia, you’ll probably notice they limp or walk with an awkward gait.
You might also notice that their symptoms are more obvious after they’ve been resting for a while - or alternatively, after doing a lot of exercise. Both not moving the joint and moving it too much can worsen symptoms.
Another common developmental disease that affects the joints is osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). The cause of this disease is unknown, but large dogs that grow very quickly are particularly prone - especially between 6 and 9 months of age.
Again, if your dog has OCD you may notice their joint seems tender, swollen, and even warm to the touch. They will show signs of being in pain and have limited movement.
This condition can be misleading - some dogs will only occasionally show signs of lameness, whereas others will be consistently unable to bear any weight on the affected joint.
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HD) is another joint condition that can affect younger dogs. It is an autoimmune condition that affects dogs between about 3 and 5 months of age (although symptoms can appear as early as 7 weeks).
HD is a blood flow issue that leads to poorly formed bones. It can affect more than one joint at the same time.
Again, larger breeds are more likely to develop this condition. It is especially prevalent in Weimaraners.
The symptoms of this unpleasant condition are pain in the joint(s), fever, and lack of appetite.
The most common form of degenerative joint disease - often seen in dogs as they age - is osteoarthritis (OA).
Osteoarthritis is progressive and degenerative. This means that, sadly, it will worsen over time. It affects 1 in 5 dogs, and dogs of any age can be diagnosed with it.
Since there is no cure for this disease, the focus needs to be on helping affected dogs to be as comfortable as possible. Pain relief and joint mobility are key in maintaining their wellbeing.
As we have seen, not every joint condition can be cured.
However, there are still plenty of actions you can take to support your dog if they are struggling from problems with their joints.
These actions are also highly recommended if you want to do all you can to reduce the chances of your pet developing joint problems later in life.
You will want to incorporate as many of these strategies into your dog’s daily routine as you can - particularly if they are a high-risk breed.
The most important step in promoting your dog’s joint health is to make sure they have any condition diagnosed formally by a professional vet.
Keep notes of all appointments, treatments, tests, and recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, do your research, make suggestions and look elsewhere if you feel your pet is not getting the best possible care.
This is particularly important for sufferers of OA. Regular moderate exercise helps to maintain strong and healthy joints.
You will want to consider where, how much and what kind of exercise your dog does.
They may be more comfortable on softer or more even surfaces. Walking may be more appropriate than encouraging running. Regular, short periods of exercise may be more beneficial than less frequent but longer stretches of walking or running.
Your vet will be able to advise you on what the best kinds of exercise are for your particular pet.
If your dog is carrying some extra weight, this will likely aggravate any existing joint problems - or increase the likelihood of them developing joint issues later in life.
Have your pet weighed at their next veterinary appointment and make sure to give them a healthy diet (that means not too many treats!).
It’s important to remember that - just like humans - dogs can gain weight not only as a result of the kinds of food they eat but also because of the quantities they are consuming. That means you will need to keep an eye on the size of the portions you are giving them too.
Dogs with limited mobility and joint pain are particularly prone to weight gain due to lack of exercise. In these cases, you’ll have to be especially vigilant about what they are eating on a daily basis.
The best dog joint supplement for almost all canines is one that contains the following ingredients:
You should also ensure that your chosen dog joint health supplements do not contain any artificial fillers and other potentially harmful chemicals. Look for a brand that has a clear and transparent ingredients list on the label.
Good joint supplements for dogs should also taste nice! This will make it far easier to persuade your dog to take them regularly - and you might even find they look forward to them every day.
DakPets Advanced Hip & Joint for Dogs ticks all the right boxes. Packed with organic and naturally derived ingredients, it also has a delicious chicken flavor that pets simply can’t resist.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s joint health, be sure to try our popular joint care chews for dogs today.
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