Top tips to support your dogs’ joints…at any age.
We tend to be more aware of supporting our dogs’ muscles and joints as they age. As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Although we cannot always prevent osteoarthritis and other degenerative conditions in dogs, the great news is that we can start early to give our pets the best chance to live a long, healthy and comfortable life.
Here are some top tips to help your dog live the comfortable life she deserves:
We know that a few extra kilos will add pressure and stress to our joints. It is no different for your dog. In fact, it takes far less excess weight for your dog to feel the impact of obesity on his joints.
We also know that it can be harder to shed the extra weight than it is to prevent obesity in the first place. This can be easily achieved through a combination of nutrition and exercise. Whether you choose to feed your dog a raw, home-cooked or commercial diet (or a mix of all three), it is important to know how your dog should look. (Take a look at my Body Condition blog here for more information).
Once you know exactly what a good body condition looks like for your breed of dog, you may need to adjust your doggo’s feeding regime to achieve and maintain it.
Support your efforts with exercise that is appropriate to your dog’s age, build and natural activity levels. Exercise is safest and effective when it is low impact and regular.
Exercise gets a category of its own because it is essential in not only maintaining a health weight for your dog, but also in building strength and improving mobility in your dog.
When researching exercise ideas for your dog, keep in mind their current ability and find exercises that cater and build on this over time. A great place to start is a simple walking program – there are many ways to increase the challenge of the walk without over-taxing your dog.
The internet is of course a great place to get exercise and conditioning ideas, but please, before starting any regime, speak to your vet or health care giver for advice – we want to make, not break your dog!
Treat injuries and conditions:
A mild lameness may not seem like much, but it can have an impact on your dog’s overall movement and comfort, even if they seem to get better on their own quickly.
If your canine friend seems a bit quiet or sore, give your vet or health care giver a call. They will help you work out a plan to help your doggie recover. Sometimes simple supportive measures can help reduce inflammation and discomfort until your dog can recover completely.
There are many different products designed to support your pet’s joints as they grow, develop and age. Some are proven to not only reduce joint pain, improve joint shock absorption, and reduce damage to cartilage, but also reduce the amount and/or speed of arthritic changes.
Remember, not all products are created equal, so it is important to discuss your options with your vet. Some products (even over-the-counter ones) can interact with other medications or have side-effects that can adversely impact your dog’s health.
Again, there are disciplines that support your dog’s musculoskeletal health. Massage, physiotherapy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy and laser therapy are all becoming more accessible.
Personally, I recommend massage as it is hands-on, easily adapted to the patient’s needs and temperament and can be performed in your dog’s most comfortable space – home!
Massage is known the relax stiff, sore muscles, improve circulation and promote mobility. We see time and again dogs feeling more comfortable after even a short targeted session.
The long term goal is to improve your dog’s quality of life – for today, and all of his tomorrows.