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How to Support Joint Health in Dogs
Joint pain is a common problem in pets, as it is in humans.
While joint issues are more common in larger dog breeds and older dogs, statistics show that about 20% of all dogs will suffer from some form of arthritis in their lifetime.
This article highlights ways you can support joint health in your dog.
Regular exercise is crucial in supporting joint health in dogs. Among other things, regular exercise helps prevent muscle wastage and minimizes strain on your dog's joints.
However, if your dog is elderly or has joint issues, you should be careful while exercising to avoid worsening their condition.
Dogs with joint problems can experience stiff and aching joints that prevent them from exercising effectively.
There are many safe and effective exercises for dogs with joint problems, so don’t just stop your pet from exercising altogether. Here are tips to keep your dog safe when exercising:
- Warm up before exercising
- Keep it low impact - avoid high-impact activities like jumping and running. Instead, opt for a slow walk, swimming, scent games, etc.
- Exercise your dog regularly
- Understand your dog's body language so you can know when they're in pain or undergoing discomfort
If you're unsure of the best exercises for your dog, consult your veterinarian for advice.
If your dog has trouble walking due to age, joint stiffness, muscle atrophy, or other health issues, your vet may recommend a mobility diet like Hills Joint Care j/d with Chicken Dry Dog Food to help make exercise easier for your dog.
This diet contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids that help support joint cartilage and muscle health.
Joint pain is another issue that can affect your pet's ability to exercise. In these cases, getting an effective treatment for the pain can help your dog live a more active lifestyle.
Some common and effective joint pain medications that your vet may recommend include:
- Carprofen: Helps relieve pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis
- Gabapentin: Effective in treating chronic pain in dogs and other pets. It is also prescribed for seizures in pets. The drug is available in capsule and tablet
- Meloxidyl: Reduces inflammation and pain in dogs. Best for dogs with mobility issues due to osteoarthritis.
Obesity is a serious issue in both pets and humans. According to the Association for Pets Obesity Prevention, about 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese.
But why is canine obesity a serious matter?
Obesity in pets is associated with an increased risk of many serious health issues, such as arthritis and cardiovascular problems.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is among the common joint problems in older pets. However, that doesn't mean that your middle-aged dog cannot be diagnosed with OA.
Obesity in dogs is typically caused by taking in too many calories and/or not getting enough exercise. These excess calories are stored as fat, which leads to inflammation as hormones and chemicals are released.
The best way to determine whether your dog is obese is to have them examined by a vet. If your pet is obese, your vet may recommend a prescription diet for weight loss and a plan for routine exercise.
Examples of weight loss diets that your vet may recommend for your dog include:
- Blue Natural WU Weight Management + Urinary Care Canned Dog Food
- Hills Weight Reduction r/d Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food
These foods will not only metabolize fat but also help your dog feel full and satisfied to avoid overeating.
The best way you can support your dog's joints is to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place.
We've stated above that obesity is one factor that puts your dog at risk of joint problems. Well, one of the best ways to avoid obesity in your pet is by feeding them a healthy/nutritious diet.
As mentioned, obesity can strain your dog's musculoskeletal system, putting them at risk of joint injuries and pain.
Many factors determine how best to feed your dog, including age and activity level.
For example, you should avoid overfeeding your puppies as this can make them grow too fast, leading to too much stress on their joints. In worst cases, this can lead to lifetime injuries.
Overfeeding older dogs is not good either because it can stress their musculoskeletal system, increase body inflammation, and decrease their will to exercise.
A diet with fewer or no carbs is recommended as it helps in weight management and reduces inflammation, which is key in maintaining healthy dog joints.
For example, Movoflex Soft Chews are a great option for dogs with dietary restrictions, including sugar, salt, and shellfish.
Also, adding glucosamine and chondroitin to your dog's diet helps improve joint cartilage and reduces inflammation.
Examples of supplements for dogs that contain glucosamine and chondroitin include:
- Dasuquin Chewable Tablets for Dogs
- Dasuquin MSM Soft Tablets for Dogs
- VetClassics ArthriEase Gold Soft Chews for Dogs and Cats
- VetClassics Joint Support Plus Chewable Tablets for Dogs
- Phycox Soft Chews Canine Joint Support
Consult your vet so they can recommend the best supplements to promote joint health in your dog.
You can also opt for natural food sources that contains glucosamine and chondroitin compounds, like bone broth, trachea, or animal bones with gristle.
Dog Joint Problems—Medication Options
The best joint treatment for your dog will depend on the cause and the severity of the issue.
For example, if weight management is the problem, your vet can recommend a weight loss diet to reduce your dog's weight.
In some cases, your vet may recommend a combination of supplements and medications to treat joint problems in your dog.
Apart from the pain medication we mentioned earlier (Gabapentin, Carprofen, and Meloxidyl), your vet may recommend other drugs to help control joint pain and inflammation in your dog.
These medications are as follows.
Galliprant Tablets for Dogs
This is a prescription-only NSAID used to treat pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis in dogs.
Galliprant Tablets for Dogs can help treat all stages of osteoarthritis and not put your dog in danger when used for prolonged periods.
Adequan Canine Injectable for Dogs
This medication is the only FDA-approved intramuscular injection drug for osteoarthritis for dogs.
Adequan Canine Injectable for Dogs (100 mg/mL, 5 mL), Pack of 2 can help restore joint lubrication, relieve inflammation, and renew the building blocks of healthy cartilage.
It can effectively control signs associated with non-infectious degenerative and traumatic arthritis in dogs.
Noninvasive Joint Support Options
If your dog doesn't see improvement with the above options, your vet may also recommend noninvasive strategies to improve your dog's joint health. These include:
Acupuncture can help reduce pain and inflammation and promote healing for your dog. Ask your vet to recommend the best acupuncturist in your area.
Cold Laser Therapy
Cold laser therapy can help reduce inflammation and increase blood flow around joints to promote healing. It may be ideal for older dogs with pains or pets with more acute injuries.
Orthopedic Dog Braces
Joint stability issues are common for dogs with arthritis and hip dysplasia.
In such a case, your vet may recommend orthopedic dog braces to help reduce pressure on your dog's joints to allow pain-free movements.
Joint Surgery in Dogs
While medications alongside exercise and proper diet can help many dogs with arthritis live a good quality life, some cases may require a surgical option.
This includes cases where the prescribed treatment regimen doesn't provide the best results or if your dog doesn't tolerate the medications well.
The surgical option your vet can recommend depends on the joints affected and the severity of the issue. However, in most cases, the surgery will fall into these main categories:
- Joint replacement
- Surgical removal of part of a joint (excision arthroplasty)
- Joint fusion (arthrodesis).
Although these procedures won't return your dog's joints to their original shape, they will help your dog live a more comfortable and active life.
Symptoms of Joint Issues in Dogs
Although these problems are more likely to occur as your dog ages, dogs of any age or breed can be susceptible to joint pain and other joint problems.
Knowing the symptoms to look for will allow you to take the action quickly, which will help avoid further damage to your dog's joints.
Like many other health issues, dog joint problems worsen with time. Therefore, discovering the problem in the early stages is key to effective treatment and management.
Here are the common signs of joint issues in dogs:
- Limping and stiffness
- Not putting pressure on hind leg
- Licking at ankles
- Regularly holding up front leg
- Swelling at the joint
- Redness around the joint
- Loss of appetite
These symptoms can also be due to other health problems in your dog, not just joint issues.
Consult your vet if your dog shows any of the above symptoms so they can analyze your dog to determine the possible causes.
What Causes Joint Problems in Dogs?
The first step to treating your dog’s joint issues is to know the cause. There are two main categories of joint issues in dogs: Degenerative and developmental joint issues.
Developmental Joint Issues
These are joint issues that begin at birth. In other words, these joint problems are due to genetic issues that prevent the pup's joints from developing correctly.
Developmental joint issues are common in large dog breeds, although breeds like Newfoundland and Bernese Mountain dogs are more susceptible to these joint problems.
Degenerative Joint Issues
This type of joint issue is caused by continuous joint use, leading to cartilage wear and injury of tendons.
Many issues can cause degenerative joint issues in dogs, including osteoarthritis and fractures due to injury.
Large dog breeds are at a higher risk of these joint issues because their weight exerts more stress on the joints.
Support Joint Health in Your Dog
Joint health in dogs is a crucial issue that no pet parent should take for granted.
While this article provides good information regarding joint problems in dogs, you still need to schedule regular visits to your vet so that a qualified veterinarian can analyze your pet.
Once your vet assesses your dog and recommends the best course of treatment, visit www.petrx.com to order your dog’s veterinary diet, prescription medications, and supplements. We’ll have them delivered from our family-owned and operated business to your doorstep with friendly and personalized customer service.