Notice anything different about your dog lately? If they happen to be moving a little slower than they used to, take note: it could be the result of aging—or it could be something more.
From playing fetch to bounding up and down the stairs, your dog’s joints see a lot of action. Over time, that action leads to natural wear and tear and, if left unaddressed, can also result in joint-related issues and injuries, reducing mobility and quality of life. Here’s how you can treat and, even better, prevent joint problems for your pup.
Prevention to Avoid Pain
We used to think that canine joint issues like arthritis were simply due to wear and tear and the effects of aging. While that’s still often true, years of study have shown that consistent irritation from low-grade inflammation is a major factor as well.
Thankfully there are some easy ways to maintain your dog’s health to prevent inflammation, starting with weight management. As you might expect, the less load your pup has to carry, the less stress they’ll experience on their joints. Moreover, unwanted fat can also contribute to inflammation. Like we stated previously in our July 2020 piece on canine obesity, identifying your dog’s ideal weight based on their breed, size and age can help you avoid weight-related health issues. So, consult with your vet or an expert at your local pet supply retailer.
From there, focus on a wholesome, nutritious diet built on a foundation of robust protein, natural antioxidants, and fatty acids to maintain that target weight and reduce inflammation. Rich proteins build and repair muscle and tissue, while antioxidants and fatty acids reduce inflammation and swelling. Natural anti-inflammatories include foods like blueberries, turmeric, fatty fish, sweet potatoes, ginger root, spinach, and pumpkin. They are proven safe, help prevent chronic inflammation in younger dogs, and reduce painful joint swelling in older, arthritic dogs.
Dog food manufacturers are also now making quality foods specifically formulated to address joint health. For example, bone broth is loaded with glycosaminoglycan (glucosamine) and compounds like chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. Glycosaminoglycan is resistant to digestion and are absorbed intact. Once absorbed, they then act like hormones, stimulating cells, and delivering collagen to joints, tendons, ligaments, and even arteries to aid elasticity.
As a preventative measure, small dogs and big dogs alike should receive maintenance doses of these additives beginning at an early age. Regular dosage can help limit joint issues or even prevent a torn ACL, a canine injury that is becoming quite common—and costly. Keep in mind: while these additives help reduce inflammation, they shouldn’t be considered a cure.
Additionally, it’s critical that your pup is getting enough water. Proper hydration keeps joints properly lubricated, allowing them to move and flex as needed. Conversely, dehydration can stiffen tendons and ligaments, intensifying pain in arthritic dogs and increasing the risk of injury.
Finally, keep ‘em moving. Regular exercise aids body conditioning boosting muscle mass and function and reducing the potential for injury to joints and connective tissue.
When it’s Time for Treatment
If the prevention ship has sailed and your dog is experiencing joint pain and restricted movement, don’t fret: there are a number of treatment options available. Assuming it’s still early and symptoms haven’t progressed too far, it might make sense to explore some natural remedies.
One popular product is CanineActiv, a safe, natural anti-inflammatory made with AlphaGee® a naturally occurring amino acid that’s also endogenous in canine physiology. Another is Liquid Health’s K9 Level 5000 Concentrated Glucosamine Chondroitin for dogs. Unlike many conventional joint medications, K9 Level 5000 won’t cause liver damage. And even something as simple as CBD oil can be effective. While CBD oil won’t treat the cause of your pup’s joint pain, it does offer some relief. You can pick up any of these products, plus more, at one of our three locally owned retail stores.
If joint issues have progressed to greater severity, it might be time to take more drastic action. This can include surgery to clean or replace joints, physical therapy via ultrasound, electric stimulation, and other methods, medication, or some combination of the three. It should be noted though that while non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), offer a reduction of inflammation, pain, and fever, they can also create side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and liver or kidney damage.
But if you haven’t reached that point and your pup is happy, healthy, and moving as they should, keep it that way. Sign-up for a free one-on-one nutrition consult with our Senior Pet Food Nutritionist, Kyle. He will be happy to help educate you on proper nutrition, healthy additives, regular exercise, and hydration to prevent joint issues in your pup.
About the Author:
Kyle Baker, Senior Pet Food Nutritionist at DOGPerfect, has a passion for educating pet parents on the power of nutrition and how it can improve their pet’s lives with proper food, supplements, and treats. DOGPerfect is a locally owned and operated pet supply store with locations in The Landings, University Park, and Lakewood Ranch.