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Joint issues are a very common problem in most aging dogs. Just like in humans, deterioration of a lifetime of use can eventually put strain and injure the joints which can then develop into arthritis. When cartilage starts to degrade because of tension or trauma, pain ensues and this can make pooches reluctant to move. Although all dogs are at risk of joint problems, larger dogs are more predisposed to developing this health issue due to the extra weight that puts more stress and pressure on their hips, elbows, knees and other joints.
What You Should Do
You cannot just reverse canine joint disease; however, you can slow its progression and even prevent some of the most serious cases joint issues. Here’s how:
1. Think of ways that you can prevent joint injury. Although people often think of painful joint diseases as being associated only with aging dogs, you should start contemplating your pooch’s joint health when he’s still a puppy and continue on using different strategies to keep the joints healthy all throughout his life. Keep in mind that prevention of joint diseases before they become problematic is a much better way to deal with the issue than trying to relieve the symptoms when it’s already there and the problem is diagnosed. Prevent joint injury by:
· Choosing the breed carefully to avoid hip dysplasia and other genetically determined joint health issues.
· Involving Fido in various dog sports while at the same time protecting him from rough play during his developmental period.
· Keeping him in in great shape to avoid weight gain and obesity.
· Strengthening joints and protecting cartilage tissues by making use of food additives, joint protective supplements, and veterinarian prescribed medications.
2. Consider making some environmental accommodations. Make it easy for your arthritic dog to move around without risking injury by providing pet ramps or pet stairs, putting down carpets and rugs, offering them their own footstool, and incorporating gentle exercises.
3. Feed your dog high quality, appropriate food. You don’t want your large breed pup to grow up too fast and then become too heavy for his still developing, immature joints or your adult furry friend to put on excessive weight if overfed, so try your best to only provide Fido the correct diet for his age and size. Too much weight or obesity will just add to the joint strain and make it rather painful to exercise. If he refuses to become more active, then he’ll gain even more weight. This is an unhealthy vicious cycle that you need to avoid.
4. Respond and treat joint injury immediately. It’s essential that any suspected joint trouble is treated promptly in order to reduce the risk of injury or prevent the joint problem from getting worse as your pooch ages. While special treatment and forced rest are the usual options, physical therapy and surgery can be alternatives especially for more serious joint issues.
If your dog does ever need joint surgery I highly recommend Dr Jonathan Dyce at the Ohio State University Vet School in Columbus, OH. He has done more total hip replacements than any other doctor and is considered to be the master of the art. He did a hip replacement on a foster dog of mine in December 2013 who could not walk on his hind leg due to an untreated injury. Arnie is now leading a happy and active life in his furever home.
I cringe when I see a friend of mine let her doxie leap down off of sofas, tables and chairs–little dogs should not be allowed to do this because of trauma to their joints. Especially dogs like dachshunds, with long spines. Seen too many paralyzed and spinal injuries from this.