When our familyís dog, Shogun, started to age, his joint's health quickly began to deteriorate. It was noticeable how difficult things were for him and it was hard for us to see him suffer. His hind legs would start to give out beneath him and he had difficulty getting around. Shogun was an Akita, so he was a large dog and the problem was exacerbated by his weight; however, whether your dog is large or small, joint problems are a very common nuisance that plague all sizes and breeds of dogs and can even affect cats. Fortunately, there are many excellent options to help slow the process of joint aging for your beloved pets. Here are some tips to help you keep your dog's joints healthy throughout his life.
Weight Control: As previously stated, a heavier dog has considerably more strain on their joints and therefore has a higher risk of developing arthritis. The first step to ensuring that your dogís joints stay healthy is to keep him at a healthy weight. Ensure that your dogís food is nutritious and that they are getting the proper serving size for their breed and activity level. Some good brands of healthy dog food include Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight, which is specially formulated for weight control, and Simply Wild, which contains ingredients that promote joint health.
Supplements: In addition to lowering your dogís weight, there is a wide variety of supplements that can also work to promote healthy joints in aging dogs. Though there are a cornucopia of brands that offer treats and supplements that you can feed your dog, itís important to know which ingredients to look out for to ensure that they are actually working.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are two ingredients that are excellent for combating the deterioration or swelling of joints. Though many joint care products are on the market, it is important to make sure they include Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate. Some examples of supplements that include these ingredients are Joint MAX, Cosequin, and Phycox but there are other supplements that contain these ingredients as well.
Reduce Impact: Shogun had two flights of stairs to navigate and in his later years he mostly stayed on the first floor. Stairs are hard on joints but you can reduce the strain of your pet by installing ramps or plush step covers to reduce the impact. Whether you have stairs or not, it is a good idea to install carpeting on your floors when you have an older pet, since hardwood and tile floors are high impact surfaces.
You should also provide alternate forms of exercise from running and walking that are not as high impact. If you live by a lake or pond, swimming is one viable option for certain dog breeds that is very minimal in the strain it puts on your dogís joints. For those of you that do not have access to a place where your dog can swim, you can move your walks to areas that are mostly grass or another low impact surface and keep the pace at a slow saunter.
Identify Joint Problems Early: Though these are excellent tips for preventing joint problems, there are further steps that should be taken once your dog has developed a serious condition. With Shogun, we had little time between our realization of his joint problem and his eventually passing so there wasnít much we could do. The earlier you can identify an injury or condition, the faster you can act on it to prevent the problem from getting worse. The following are symptoms of pain in dogs that can help you identify a problem:
-Difficulty lying down and getting up
-Exceedingly slow when beginning to walk or move after getting up
-Difficulty with stairs
-Limping or standing off-balance
Once you identify the problem, there are several things you can do to slow or even remedy the problem before it becomes severe.
Caring for an Injured Dog If youíve identified a problem with your dogís joints then there are a variety of drugs and therapy you can give your dog to reduce the pain and inflammation in his joints. ProLabs FLEX Rx is a prescription strength drug designed to reduce pain, restore cartilage and absorb joint destroying free-radicals. A variety of therapy options are also available including acupuncture, chiropractics, laser therapy and stem cell therapy.
By using these tips you can prevent serious joint damage in your pet and reduce joint pain for pets with arthritis or other joint problems. We hope that you take these tips to heart and that you and your pet stay healthy and stay happy!