When it comes to your four-legged, furry friend, do you treat him or her like a member of your family? You no-doubt want the best for your dog. The healthiest food and treats, plenty of exercise, and even a comfy bed to sleep in, but how often do you think about your dog’s joint health?
Just like humans, dogs may be prone to joint pain and discomfort as they get older, too. There are signs to watch out for and ways you can help support your dog’s joint health without sacrificing comfort. Read on to learn more!
What Causes Joint Pain in Dogs?
Just like humans, dogs are subject to age-related joint pain and discomfort (though there are other types as well). As a result, your furry friend may not be as vibrant and active as he or she once was. Joint pain may make running and walking difficult, and can also affect the way your dog lies down and sleeps.
So, how does this happen? It’s similar to how humans develop joint pain. TheBark.com (subscribe to Bark magazine through Magazines.com here) offers a detailed explanation:
As dogs get older, the cartilage surfaces of their joints begin to thin, and cartilage cells die. When the cells die, they release enzymes that cause inflammation of the joint capsule and release of excessive joint fluid. Extra bony growths (osteophytes) can develop. With severe cartilage thinning, the normal joint space narrows and the bone beneath the cartilage deteriorates. All of these processes set in motion further changes in the normal functioning of the dog’s joint, and an ongoing spiral of pain, lameness, limb disuse/inactivity and muscle atrophy sets in (Source).
How are Joint Issues Detected?
You know your dog better than anyone. If you have a normally active pup, signs of slow movement and deep groaning are pretty good signs that your dog may be experiencing joint pain.
A visit to the vet is always recommended, as he or she can conduct some testing to ensure the issue is joint pain and not something more serious. When it comes to examining your dog, your vet will rely on a few different things to confirm joint issues, including gait (walking) abnormalities, pain response to joint movement and pressure, and even the presence of muscle atrophy.
According to HealthyJointCare.org, every dog has a 65% chance of joint discomfort as he or she reaches ages seven to 11 (Source). That statistic may have you worried, but don’t worry–there are a number of natural ways to help your dog stay healthy and mobile.
Ways to Support Your Dog’s Joint Health
Seeing your pup in pain really tugs at your heartstrings. You just want him or her to feel better as fast as possible, right? Of course. There are a number of different ways to help support your pet’s joint health, mobility, and quality of life.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
Natural Supplement Options
Natural supplements have been growing in popularity for a number of years now, and this includes options for pets.
So, what might help your dog’s joint woes?
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance that is produced in the body’s joint cartilage. It’s a vital part of the lubricants and shock-absorbers that help maintain joint health and movement. (Glucosamine is also a key player in the health of other body structures, too.)
PetMD offers the following advice when purchasing glucosamine for your dog:
There are three forms of glucosamine, so when purchasing it, look for the sulfate form because it seems to be absorbed and utilized the best. Because dietary supplements are unregulated, the quality and contents may vary widely. Be sure to choose a product sold by a well established company and consult your veterinarian as to which would be best for your dog (Source).
Premier Research Labs offers a quality Glucosamine Sulfate product. You can order it here.
2. Chondroitin Sulfate
Chondroitin is another substance created naturally by the body. However, production starts to slow with age, which may affect cartilage health and strength. Known as a glycosaminoglycan (GSG), chondroitin may help protect the joints by supporting cartilage repair and joint fluid restoration, according to Whole Dog Journal (subscribe to the magazine at Magazines.com here).
Supplementation with chondroitin sulfate may help minimize joint pain, support your dog’s joint health and mobility, and help to support strong and healthy cartilage in the joints as well.
3. Pet-Specific Options
A number of pet health and supplement companies offer a wide range of products to help support and maintain joint comfort and mobility in dogs. Some of our favorite options are below:
- Agile Joints for Pets from Pet Wellbeing
- Alaskan Omega-3 for Dogs & Hip & Joint with Glucosamin & MSM for Dogs from Vital Planet
- Arthroplex & Canine Geriatric Basics from Thorne Research
- Curcumin 97% for Pets from Ayush Herbs
- Hip + Joint Chewables for Dogs & Daily Best Senior for Dogs from Pet Naturals of Vermont
- Fidoplex Hip + Joint Support from Wondercide
- Healthy Motion for Dogs from Green Dog Naturals
- Hyaflex Hyaluronic Acid Canine Hip & Joint Formula from Hyalogic
A number of other options for pet health can be found at Natural Healthy Concepts as well. You can browse them all here and choose a product that is right for your pet.
Other Support Options
Feeding your dog healthy food and offering supplements are great starts toward helping support joint comfort. They’re not the only options, though! Check out the list below for some other tips:
- Keep an eye on your dog’s weight. A slim dog with a healthy weight will have less of a pressure load on his or her joints.
- Create a healthy and supportive home environment. Using ramps or stairs instead of allowing your dog to jump is a great start. Providing soft, supportive bedding is another. Do whatever you see as necessary to make moving, sleeping, and living easier for your dog.
- Give your dog a massage. Yes, even dogs love massages! Massaging your dog’s joints may help relieve discomfort and stress, and is also a way for you to keep tabs on where your dog hurts and when. Modern Dog offers four techniques for properly massaging your sore little pup. You can also subscribe to their magazine at Magazines.com here.
- Purchase a comfortable, heated bed or pillow. Dogs love heating pads, too. Plus, a heated bed (or pad that you slip into the bed) offers extra support for achy joints and sore muscles. A good, therapeutic resting spot goes a long way toward helping your dog feel better.
- Ensure exercise is gentle. Dogs love to run, but when they’re dealing with joint pain, high levels of exercise may be more harmful than you think. Exercise is needed as part of a good health routine, but ensure it’s gentle, low-impact, and relatively short in length.
- Think about acupuncture. Yes! Acupuncture isn’t just for people. According to vetSTREET, “this painless technique has shown some success in animals suffering from joint pain” (Source).
Do you have any other suggestions for pets with joint discomfort? What are you doing to keep your own furry friend healthy and mobile? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave us a comment below.