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Keeping Your Dog’s Joints Healthy: Tips For Improving Mobility and Comfort

Learn how to keep your dog’s joints healthy and improve mobility as they age. Tips include maintaining weight, exercise, diet, supplements, and more.

Dog undergoing hydrotherapy to support joint health and mobility.

Dog joint health. We generally hear people talk about arthrosis (for convenience, we will call it that), but the exact name is osteoarthritis. An inflammatory process is always at the root of acute or chronic joint problems.

Eroded cartilage

Which joints can be affected by arthrosis? All joints can be affected by inflammatory processes. However, hip, knee, elbow, shoulder, and tarsus problems are the most common.

The problem begins with an erosion of the cartilage lining the joint ends; subsequently, the inflammatory process also affects the bone underneath it, which, in response to the harmful stimulus, produces new bone tissue that is, however, laid abnormally and often engaged the joint cavity, creating discomfort and further inflaming the area (osteophytes).

No way out

In the meantime, the soft tissues surrounding the joint also begin to feel the damage, and the inflammation spreads, gradually increasing the animal’s discomfort. Unfortunately, it is impossible to reverse an arthritic process: once it has started, one can only try to slow down its development.

Arthrosis is the most affected.

Arthrosis can affect all animal friends, but certain breeds are more prone to the problem due to genetic predisposition. In particular, dogs from large or giant breeds that undergo rapid body growth tend to develop joint problems.

Arthrosis can also develop due to intense use (and consequent ‘wear and tear) of the joints, as in sporting or working dogs. It is also widespread in elderly dogs and cats. In addition, traumas such as fractures, dislocations, and total or partial ruptures of ligaments can predispose to arthrosis.

One problem, many symptoms

Which attitudes of our animals can lead us to suspect arthrosis? The most frequent are lameness, reluctance to move or perform particular actions (typical is the unwillingness to get into the car in dogs with hip problems); certain attitudes, posture or gait vices (e.g. if a dog tends to sit with one of its legs spread apart, there is usually a knee problem; the “shaking” of some dogs may lead one to suspect a hip problem); reluctance to be touched in some regions of the body; mood changes: the animal suddenly becomes isolated or aggressive for no apparent reason; disappearance, slimming, decrease in daily grooming of the coat, which becomes matted (especially in cats).

In addition, the joint may be swollen, warm and painful; crackling or abnormal noises may be heard, and movement may be restricted.

Joint health in dogs. What to do?

Your vet will certainly be able to give specific advice to each owner, but we can generally provide some valuable tips. First, it is good to prevent the problem by following a balanced diet programme and moderate but constant exercise from when our four-legged friend is a puppy.

Happy dog running outdoors is a crucial part of maintaining joint health.
Continuous and moderate physical activity is the basis for healthy joints.

Owners of dogs belonging to breeds at risk of dysplasia should carry out regular check-ups (clinical examination followed, if necessary, by X-ray examination) from as early as three to four months of puppyhood. However, if traumatic episodes occur, it is best not to wait too long before having the animal examined: the sooner the inflammatory process is stopped, the less damage to the joint.

Joint health in dogs. The right movement

Pay particular attention to trauma in puppies, where injuries to the growing joints and cartilage can cause deformities and deviations of the limbs (resulting in load distribution problems and predisposition to further joint problems) that can be seen even a few weeks after an innocent trauma.

Continuous and moderate physical activity is the basis for healthy joints. Healthy daily walks are a good habit and keep joints and muscles (the owner’s, too!) in shape.

However, intense sporting activity at a young age is contraindicated: it can even cause severe joint damage. Can administer targeted food supplements containing chondroprotective substances to subjects deemed at risk (always on the advice of a veterinarian) from the first months of life.

Joint health in dogs. Let’s take cover.

If an arthritic problem is established, the vet can act on various fronts. Let’s see which ones. In general, it is good to follow a balanced diet, supplementing with substances such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate, which are helpful for the well-being of the joints.

The animal should, however, move; physical activity should be low-intensity and continuous; jumping, jerking, and any movement that places excessive strain on the joints should be avoided.

Working in water, especially on an aquatic treadmill (many veterinary physiotherapy centres are now equipped with them), would be excellent.

There are also conventional drugs, phytopharmaceuticals or homoeopathic remedies that can help control pain and inflammation, not to mention preventive or curative surgery if necessary. Finally, manual and instrumental rehabilitative physiotherapy is always advisable for joint problems.

Joint health is essential for all dogs but significant for older and active dogs. Joints are the connections between bones, allowing your dog to move freely. When joints are healthy, they are smooth and flexible. However, when joints are unhealthy, they can become stiff, painful, and swollen.

Many things can affect joint health in dogs, including:

  • Age: Older dogs are more likely to develop common problems than younger dogs.
  • Breed: Some breeds are more prone to joint problems than others. For example, large and giant breed dogs are more likely to develop hip dysplasia, while small breed dogs are more likely to develop elbow dysplasia.
  • Weight: Obesity strains joints, leading to pain and inflammation.
  • Injury: Previous damage to a joint can increase the risk of developing arthritis later in life.
  • Genetics: Some dogs are more likely to develop joint problems due to their genetics.

There are some things that you can do to help keep your dog’s joints healthy, including:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Feed your dog a healthy diet.
  • Provide your dog with regular exercise.
  • Avoid excessive jumping and running.
  • Keep your dog’s joints warm.
  • Use joint supplements.
  • Get your dog’s joints checked by your veterinarian regularly.

If you notice any signs of joint pain or inflammation in your dog, such as lameness, stiffness, or swelling, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment of joint problems can help to improve your dog’s quality of life.

Here are some additional tips for keeping your dog’s joints healthy:

  • Choose a dog bed that is supportive and comfortable.
  • If your dog has arthritis, you may want to consider a raised food and water bowl.
  • You may consider getting a ramp if your dog has trouble getting up or down.
  • If your dog has difficulty getting into or out of the car, you may consider getting a car seat or ramp.

Proper care can help your dog enjoy a long and healthy life, even with joint problems.

Thank you for reading the article to the end. Your reading contribution was significant to us.

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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