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Promoting Joint Health in Your Aging Dog
Posted: 07/20/2022 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Health problems , Pet care
Anyone over the age of 40 knows what it’s like to get out of bed in the morning, or to rise after sitting a while, and feel those achy joints complain about the sudden movement. Just as aging people must take care of their joints, it’s important that we promote joint health in our aging dogs.
Did you know that 1 in 5 older dogs will be diagnosed with osteoarthritis? The joints, both in people and in our pets, have a protective cushion and fluid that surrounds the bones to facilitate smooth and pain-free motion. As we age, this protective cartilage can deteriorate and/or become inflamed, causing pain and mobility issues. And the same thing can happen to our beloved dogs.
While there is no cure for arthritis, there are things you can do to slow the progression of the disease and promote joint health in your aging dog.
According to a 2018 U.S. survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), “55.8% of dogs classified as overweight or obese.” This is an alarming piece of data and perhaps an answer to why joint deterioration is so prevalent in the dog population.
Just like with people, additional weight on the body puts unnecessary stress on your dog’s joints, causing pain and inflammation.
But exercise does more than just keep your dog at a healthy weight. Exercise compresses your joints, forcing more nutrient-rich fluid into the area, keeping the cartilage healthy.
And finally, exercise helps your dog keep lean muscle in his legs, which contributes to joint stabilization.
As a very big added bonus, when you walk your dog, you are also reaping the same benefits! So get out there at least once, if not two to three times a day, for a nice walk with your pup!
Talk to Your Vet About Supplementation
There are a variety of supplements available that have proven to be beneficial on keeping your dog’s joints healthy. You may want to speak to your vet about the following:
- Glucosamine hydrochloride
- Chondroitin sulfate
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs)
- Boswellia serrata
- CBD oil
Some veterinarians recommend beginning joint protective supplements as early as puppyhood for those breeds who are predisposed to joint disease. It’s always a good idea to speak with your vet before giving your dog any supplement.
It’s important to mention that pet supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Even if you buy people versions of fish oils and glucosamine and chondroitin, be sure you do so from a trusted and reputable source.
Many supplements on the market are simply not safe for pet consumption or human consumption. That’s because they often contain lead and other contaminants. This is particularly true of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements sourced from China. BE AWARE: the bottle may say “Made in the USA” but that won’t matter much if the ingredients were sourced from China.
Do your homework and make certain the supplements you give your dog are quality and safe.
Pay Close Attention to Your Dog
While exercise and supplementation will go a long way toward promoting joint health in your pup, there will be those dogs who, no matter what, will experience some arthritis when they get older. That’s why it is incredibly important that you watch your dog closely as she ages to notice any signs of pain. But that isn’t always easy to do.
You see, animals are notoriously good at hiding pain. It is a mechanism they learned in the wild to protect themselves from being seen as vulnerable (because vulnerable animals make the best prey!). That’s why it is so important as our dogs age to pay extra close attention to their mood and behavior so we can pick up even the slightest sign that they may be experiencing joint pain.
The following are some of the classic signs of joint pain and stiffness in dogs:
- Trouble getting up and laying down
- Difficulty maneuvering stairs
- Inability to jump
- Reluctance to play or go for a walk
- Limping or other gait changes
- Muscle wasting, especially around hips and thighs
- Aggression when touched
- Changes in appetite
If you see any of these signs, it’s important that you take your dog in for a checkup. Your vet may decide to prescribe pain medication to give your dog a better quality of life.
Keep Them Comfortable
Should your dog reach an age and a point where their joints do begin to bother them, there are things you can do to keep them comfortable. Besides pain medication, you may want to invest in better dog beds that contain thicker, orthopedic foam. If your dog is struggling on hardwood or tiled floors, be sure to put down non-slip area rugs or mats to help them feel safe. You may also want to invest in a ramp so getting in and out of your car is easier for them.
By far the best thing you can do to keep your dog’s joints healthy and pain-free is to keep their weight down, make sure they get plenty of exercise, and supplement with quality supplements that have been proven to help protect joints. Beyond this, keep an eye on your pup as he ages to catch any signs that his joints are starting to bother him and come up with a treatment plan with your vet.
Helping Your Dog Live a Long and Happy Life
The fact you’ve read this entire article is a testament to the fact you love and care about your dog and want to do whatever it takes to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible. Well we want to help you help your dog.
We are pet owners ourselves and understand that high vet bills can make it nearly impossible to give our fur babies the care they need. That’s why we started Pet Insurance Review. We find the most comprehensive pet health insurance plans on the market today so you never have to worry. Did you know some plans can actually reimburse you for up to 90% of the vet bill?
Don’t let high vet bills stop you from providing the care your dog deserves. Get a free quote today.
- 2018 Pet Obesity Survey Results https://petobesityprevention.org/2018
- “Osteoarthritis in Dogs.” Retrieved from: https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/osteoarthritis-in-dogs
- Johnston, S.A. Osteoarthritis. Joint anatomy, physiology, and pathobiology. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. 1997. 27(4): 699–723. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9243777/
- “2015 AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.” Retrieved from: https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/pain-management-config/pain-management-intro/
- “The Hidden Dangers in Your Dietary Supplements.” (2016) Retrieved from: American College of healthcare Sciences https://achs.edu/blog/2016/12/02/dangerous-supplement-ingredients/