All you need to know about joint care for dogs.
Canine arthritis is a painful condition which affects most older dogs. As the dog ages protective cartilage wears out, tendons and ligaments lose their elasticity, and joints become painful and inflamed.
This does not mean, though, that you have to watch your best friend hobble painfully through his golden years. There are a number of things you can do to keep him fit and healthy.
The key is to start early. Joint care for dogs should begin while the dog is still fit and active, with a healthy diet, exercise, and joint supplements all key to strengthening and protecting bones, joints and cartilage.
Joint Care for Dogs: Importance of Diet and Exercise
If your dog is overweight he is doing damage to his joints and cartilage that may cause him severe pain in later years. It is therefore important that you keep a handle on your dog’s weight and don’t allow him to overeat.
Here’s a quick and easy way to check if your dog is overweight. Run your hand along his flanks. You should feel individual ribs under a light covering of flesh. If you can’t feel the individual ribs the likelihood is that your dog needs to lose weight.
A more accurate measure would be to ask your vet, or to find out the average for your dog’s breed, and check his weight against it. The bottom line is that you need to feed your dog the right foods, in the right quantity, or he may become obese.
What is the right quantity? Use the recommendations on the bag as a guide, but don’t follow these slavishly because all dogs are different. And factors like age and activity level also come into play. Just use common sense, adjusting up or down depending on your dog’s weight against the breed standard.
The other important factor is exercise, and fortunately, you’ll find a willing companion in your dog. Most dog’s love being active, so make sure that you work a good exercise session into your daily routine. An hour a day should suffice for most dogs and should include walks, and games like fetch, tag and tug-a-war.
Joint Care for Dogs: Supplements and Medication
A number of supplements have proven to be beneficial to joint care for dogs by protecting and rebuilding cartilage. Glucosamine, for example promotes the creation of new cartilage, while chondroitin prevents further damage. Other beneficial joint supplements include MSM, hyaluronic acid and green-lipped mussel extract.
These supplements should be given while the dog is still healthy, but be sure to speak to your vet before giving any supplement to your dog.
If your dog is already suffering arthritis or joint pain, essential fatty acids (EFAs) can reduce the inflammation.
Your vet may also prescribe carprofen, meloxicam, deracoxib or a similar anti-inflammatory. Be aware though, that these drugs have serious side-effects, and have been known to cause ulcers and increase liver and kidney toxicity. Discuss the risks with your vet before you decide to put your dog on these medications, especially if the dog has heart, liver or kidney problems.
Advances in veterinary medicine mean that dogs are living longer than ever before. Proper joint care for dogs will ensure that their golden years are happy and pain-free.