Dogs are energetic creatures. Their boundless energy is a source of pride and joy to any dog owners
As your dog gets older, however, it may gradually lose its spiritedness. And this could happen if they experience swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints. The pain and discomfort will start gradually. But over time, your pet could turn lazy and prefer to lie down than move about. You might even notice a limp.
So how can you keep these symptoms at bay and keep your dog’s joints healthy? Let’s find out below.
Understanding the Risks
If your dog experiences lameness in one of their hind legs, it could be a sign of a CCL tear — one of the most common types of injury among dogs. It’s the equivalent of a torn ACL in humans.
The CCL ligament is important because it connects the femur to the tibia. It serves three main functions:
- It prevents the tibia from rotating internally
- It keeps the knee from extending too far
- It blocks tibia cranial displacement
A torn CCL will make your pet less lively and energetic. In fact, it could be the reason they aren’t as playful as they used to be.
Other factors such as weight could make your pet more prone to this type of injury. Senior dogs, in particular, are more vulnerable to joint pain and other problems.
So as a pet owner, you’ll need to know how to keep your dog’s joints healthy. We’ve outlined a few tips below.
1. Get Enough Exercise
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to maintain joint health for dogs. Your workout regimen may vary depending on the age and condition of your dog, however.
Here are three different types of exercise your dog can try:
Swimming is one of the best types of exercise for dogs of any age. It is a low-impact activity that’s great for the joints. By swimming regularly, your dog can build muscle and shed some excess weight. And it’s easy because all you need to do is fill your bathtub with water!
Going for a dip can also encourage better blood circulation to your dog’s joints and muscles. On top of that, it also benefits the heart and lungs. After all, being in the water can give your dog a workout without putting too much pressure on their joints.
Sometimes, swimming isn’t always convenient. So why not go on a walk instead? Walks are possible any time of the day, anyway. But make sure that when you plan to go on a walk, you don’t overexert your dog. Divide your walking sessions into just a few minutes each.
For instance, instead of going on a one-hour walk, consider taking four 15-minute strolls throughout the day instead. And it’s a win-win: your dog gets the right amount of exercise without putting too much stress on their joints.
Shake things up and take your dog to the park where it can play with other dogs. Natural playtime is a great type of workout for your dog because they get to spend time with other four-legged friends.
But make sure your pet doesn’t overexert themselves by participating in rigorous activities like frisbee throwing. Jumping and landing could put them at risk of a serious injury. On a similar note, steer clear of parks with steep inclines because they could end up slipping.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Proper joint care for dogs also involves sticking to a healthy diet. And this isn’t just about eating fiber and vitamin-rich foods. It’s about strengthening the joints themselves with two types of compounds: glucosamine and chondroitin.
Your dog naturally produces glucosamine, a necessary substance for joint cartilage. As your dog gets older, however, it ends up producing less.
This could, in turn, make your dog more prone to joint stiffness. Without glucosamine, your dog loses its ability to absorb impact and reduce pain.
To remedy this, vets recommend a dietary intake of glucosamine-rich food. These include:
- Chicken feet
- Oxtails or pigtails
- Beef knuckle bones
- Shellfish shells
- Green lipped mussels
- Bone broth
These foods are rich sources of glucosamine so you won’t have to rely on taking joint supplements for dogs. Just keep in mind that dogs need around 500 mg of glucosamine per 25 pounds each day.
Chondroitin is just as important as glucosamine because it helps maintain cartilage elasticity. It also prevents the production of anti-inflammatory mediators that can damage the joints.
Your dog also tends to produce less chondroitin as they grow older. Maintain your dog’s chondroitin by including these foods in their diet:
- Cow trachea
- Pig ears
- Pig nose
- Bird cartilage
You may also shop for chondroitin supplements available in the market.
3. Give Your Dog a Massage
Massaging your dog is a great way to relieve some of the joint pain it feels. But before you schedule a massage session with your dog, ask your vet if it’s safe and what types of massages you can do.
Before the massage, rub your dog’s body all over to calm them down and get them in the right mood. Then, feel for any areas with tight muscles and try to loosen them with a gentle rub. Avoid applying direct pressure on the joints themselves. Instead, knead large group muscles on the haunches and shoulders.
When performing the massage, work through the entire body and avoid staying in one spot. And make sure you’re massaging both sides of their body.
4. Keep Your Home Safe
Ask yourself whether the floors of your home could be putting your dog at a greater risk of injury. Avoid the risk of slips or trips with these tips:
Ramps can reduce the amount of effort your dog puts in climbing up or down around the house. For example, if you usually sleep with your dog on the bed, place a small ramp on the side where they can climb up instead of jumping. You may also want to install ramps near other elevated areas like the porch or sofa.
It’s easy to walk on tiles and hardwood. These surfaces can be quite challenging to walk on for dogs with stiff joints, however. So install high-traffic areas like the living or dining room with rugs or traction tape. A rug can give your dog enough gripping power so they won’t have to strain their joints to stay balanced.
Keep Your Dog’s Joints in Good Shape
These hacks may seem simple, but they can go a long way in maintaining your dog’s joints. After all, by knowing how to keep your dog’s joints healthy you can avoid the risk of a CCL tear and going through surgery.
Even though it could seem taxing to commit to a daily exercise routine or make adjustments around the home, our furry best friends are always worth it. It’s the best way we can thank them for the joy and companionship they give us.