5 Tips to Improve Joint Health For Dogs

Joint Health
5 Tips to Improve Joint Health For Dogs


Joint health for dogs! There are many different reasons why a dog might develop joint problems. These mainly fall under two categories—developmental, where the joints don’t develop properly, and degenerative, where the cartilage around the joints deteriorates over a long period of time (think arthritis and osteoarthritis). Developmental joint problems include issues like hip and elbow dysplasia and are typically genetically inherited conditions. The exact cause of degenerative joint problems is not known, but there are several reasons the condition might worsen. These include:

  • Old age
  • Excess weight
  • Stress on joints from excess physical activity (this is especially common with working and sporting dogs)

What are the Symptoms of Poor Joint Health for Dogs?

  •  Difficulty standing up or lying down
  •  Stiff, slow walking or limping
  •  Lethargy, including no longer enjoying their favourite games or toys
  •  Increased irritability or crying when touched

Some breeds are more prone to having joint problems than others. Joint health for dogs typically larger breeds such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands, and Rottweilers, however some smaller breeds like the Dachshund can be predisposed to joint problems as well. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, make an appointment to see your vet. They can advise you on the best course of action for your situation.

Here Are Our Top Tips For Improving Joint Health for Dogs:

1. Weight Management: Just like with humans, excess weight can be detrimental to your dog’s health. Extra weight puts extra pressure on your dog’s joints, so if your dog is overweight, even a little, getting his weight down is the first step to improving his joint health. Make sure your pup is getting enough exercise in the way of walks and play, but make sure not to overdo it as this can also cause stress on the joints. Take a good look at the ingredients in your dog’s food and how much you’re feeding him. If his food has lots of artificial colours and flavours, preservatives, and chemicals, consider switching to something more natural.

2.Supplements: Glucosamine and chondroitin are imperative to improving joint health. Glucosamine is a natural compound that helps relieve pain and stimulates the growth of cartilage cells (the cushioning between joints). Chondroitin is a chemical found in cartilage that helps inhibit the cells that damage cartilage. Manufacturers of these supplements often combine the two ingredients for the best results. There are of course other supplements that can help improve joint health in dogs but these two are the foundations of most of them. Talk to your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

3. Improved Accessibility: When anyone, human, canine, or otherwise, is experiencing joint pain, climbing on or off furniture can be incredibly difficult. For pets with chronic joint pain, consider getting an easy-access bed without bolsters around all sides they have to climb over. If your dog typically sleeps in your bed with you, try using a ramp so that rather than jumping up and off the bed, which puts stress on the joints, your dog can simply walk up or down the ramp.

4. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy helps strengthen your dog’s joints, bones, and muscles through strength, endurance, and range of motion exercises. There are two types of physical therapy: active and passive. Active physical therapy means the dog actively engages in the exercise. One of the most popular types of this is aquatic therapy, which allows your dog to use their muscles without putting pressure on them. Passive physical therapy means the dog doesn’t need to participate and can, for the most part, lie still while a therapist works. This is typically either cold/heat therapy where cold packs or heat packs are placed on the affected areas to reduce swelling, pain, and stiffness, or range of motion exercises where a therapist will move the dog’s joints to improve flexibility. Note: Physical therapy requires a prescription form your vet.

Massage Therapy

5. Massage Therapy: Massaging your dog is something you can either learn at home or have done at a special clinic. There are many online tutorials for owners who want to learn to do at-home massages for their pet (find a how to massage your dog article here), and clinics in most large cities for those who don’t have the time or would prefer to have a professional take over. Massage therapy helps stimulate body fluids, ease muscle restrictions, and improve mobility and flexibility. 

Try these tips today to help improve joint health for your dogs.

Make sure to talk to your vet before making any dietary changes or changes to your dogs physical routine.

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