Canines love running and playing, but that can take its toll on their joints. Over time, the cushioning cartilage that protects the ends of bones from rubbing against each other wears down gradually leading to painful arthritis and joint issues in pet owners’ dogs and cats alike. While normal aging and breed predisposition play major roles in joint disease progression, there’s much pet owners can do to promote healthy cartilage formation, reduce inflammation, improve function and slow the progression of disease in their animals.
Make sure your pup is eating a nutritionally-balanced diet as an important first step toward alleviating osteoarthritis in dogs. A suitable food will provide essential omega-3 fatty acids (to reduce inflammation) as well as high concentrations of glucosamine and chondroitin to slow the degrading effects of OA.
An additional step in supporting your dog’s joint health is adding supplements to his meals. Whole foods, chews and complete diets with scientifically-proven ingredients that support joint health can be found online or at local pet shops. Hyaluronic acid (known as hyaluronan) is produced naturally within their bodies to keep tissues hydrated and lubricated – it also aids cell repair while offering natural cushioning effects in joints. Another supplement known as proline helps form collagen which forms connective tissue for skin muscles tendons and joints – helping keep joints happy!
Exercise to your dog’s daily regimen can be an excellent way to maintain healthy cartilage and joints. Walking, swimming and indoor games such as hide-and-seek are great low-impact forms of activity that provide both enjoyment and stress relief for them.
If your dog has difficulty standing and moving around, consider using a supportive sling or lifting harness to assist them with getting up from lying down. Many larger vet hospitals now provide physical therapy services designed to reduce inflammation and improve mobility for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia, knee dysplasia, back pain or other ailments.
In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. While all surgeries carry risk, they may be the best solution for severely affected dogs. Surgery can help flush out inflamed joints and reconstruct or correct deformities – however it should be remembered that surgery doesn’t address the underlying source of discomfort.
As a pet parent, the best thing you can do to support your canine’s joint health is being proactive about monitoring his or her movement. If any signs of joint discomfort arise, seek medical advice immediately as this will allow them to prescribe appropriate treatment to restore function and decrease pain/inflammation levels. There can be much misinformation out there regarding canine joint health; arming yourself with evidence will keep you ahead of fad treatments (such as Elk Antlers). Your veterinarian remains your most reliable source for joint health information!