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Treating Your Dog’s Joint Pain

Is your dog more sluggish to retrieve the ball they once couldn’t reach fast enough, or more reluctant to run and greet you at the door when you come home? Your dog may be silently suffering from joint pain. Dogs of all ages and sizes can develop joint pain for a number of reasons. Not to worry though, there are plenty of ways to prevent and treat your pup’s stiff joints from supplements to prescription medications.

Signs of Joint Pain

  • Stiffness when standing after periods of inactivity
  • Difficulty jumping or running
  • A “bucking” of the back legs while running
  • Problems going up or down stairs
  • Limping
  • General laziness when it comes to activities that used to excite your dog

Degenerative vs. Developmental Joint Issues

Is all joint pain the same, you ask? Well, most joint pain is the result of two types of ailments: degenerative or developmental issues.

Degenerative Joint Pain

An example of a degenerative joint problem is osteoarthritis. Similar to osteoarthritis in people, osteoarthritis in dogs results in a breakdown of cartilage between joints, making normal activities like running and jumping a little painful. Aging dogs are at the highest risk for degenerative joint disease. Years of playing fetch and running can take a toll on your dog’s joints, but there is help for Fido through the use of supplements and medications that help maintain and promote healthy cartilage. Prescription medications can address the sensitivity by suppressing inflammation, thus reducing pain. It’s relatively simple to diagnose through a physical examination, although x-rays may help to give a more definitive answer.

Developmental Joint Pain

Developmental joint pain can be the result of bones not forming correctly or becoming displaced as a dog grows (think hip or elbow dysplasia). Most everyone has heard of these health issues in dogs. Developmental joint issues can be diagnosed by your veterinarian with a physical examination or with x-rays. Developmental joint pain can be combated by using a combination of supplements and anti-inflammatories. It’s all about deciding what the best approach is for your furry friend.

Treatment Options and Helpful Hints

The good news is that there is a vast array of products that help fight joint pain in dogs. I took it upon myself to go out and do research when I noticed my six-year old golden retriever, Mr. Finn, having trouble getting up and down from the couch (we enjoy a Netflix binge every now and then).

Supplements

I have found that supplements can really work magic when it comes to treating joint issues. Combating inflammation is key and I noticed a change in Mr. Finn’s activity within a week of giving him a daily supplement. After a week or so of giving him a daily supplement, he was able to jump up on the couch again, no joke! Here is a list of some ingredients to look for and a brief explanation of the purpose they serve in fighting joint pain.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: anti-inflammatory and can help block enzymes that cause cartilage destruction. Popular products include AllerG-3 and Welactin Soft Gels. We also offer Dr. Muller Omega-3 Soft Chews.
  • Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane (MSM): promotes healthy connective tissues in joints and helps reduce scar tissue. A popular option here is Dasuquin Soft Chews with MSM. Dasuquin also comes in a Chewable Tablet.
  • Perna Mussels (Green Lipped Mussels): contains glucosamine, one of the building blocks of cartilage. A popular product containing Perna Mussels is Synovi G3
  • Creatine: helps promote muscle health and can result in your dog having more energy. Flex 2500 Soft Chews are a popular product including creatine.
  • Turmeric: all-natural anti-inflammatory and may help your pet to maintain a healthy weight. DVM Daily Soft Chews include turmeric.
  • All of the above! Many of the most popular products combine four or even all five ingredients. Phycox Soft Chews and Synovi G4 cover many of these bases, and add additional ingredients to support your dog's health. And Dr. Muller Vet Flex adds Boswellia to the mix.

Exercise

So, aside from using supplements and medications, what can you do to help your pup’s joints? Get out and play! Short periods of exercise can help your pet tremendously. This could include fetching, short walks, swimming, and anything else you can do that is fun for you and your dog! Exercise keeps your dog limber and promotes muscle strength, which is essential to joint health!

Weight Management

Another way to help your dog is to make sure they are maintaining a healthy weight. Excess weight puts extra stress on your dog’s joints, which can increase the chances of your dog developing joint issues or cause more pain to a dog with existing joint issues. Make sure you are not overfeeding your dog. Ask your vet about your pet’s ideal weight and feed him or her accordingly. You can find a simple pet food calculator here that can be used to determine how much to feed your dog.

Keeping our furry friends healthy is important to all of us. Joint pain is more common in certain breeds, but can affect any dog. Make sure you’re paying attention to the warning signs and get educated about the options available to your dog in treating joint pain. As always, consult your veterinarian to discuss the risks and benefits of supplements and medications before introducing them into your dog’s healthcare regimen. Now get out and enjoy life with your pet!

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