A dog’s joints allow them to walk around, play, sit, and find the perfect position to cuddle up next to you. But, just like our own, a dog’s joints are prone to wear and tear. Many older canines develop joint problems, especially in their hips, while others are sometimes naturally prone to joint problems that show up even earlier due to things like breed, genetics, and injury.
Once a dog does develop joint problems, it can take away from their quality of life, making it more challenging for them to go for walks, play outside and even find a comfortable position while sitting or sleeping. That’s why it’s critical that we do everything we can to support our dog’s joints from early on, before visible issues begin to arise. We may not be able to entirely prevent joint issues once our dogs reach a certain age, but we can minimize their impact so that our dog enjoys many years of feeling comfortable and healthy.
What are the Signs of Joint Problems in Dogs?
Of course, it’s important to take your dog for annual checkups so that your veterinarian can check for early signs of joint problems that may go unnoticed otherwise. Especially as a canine ages, your veterinarian should be on the lookout for signs of ailing joints. From there, they might be able to help you devise a treatment plan accordingly.
You should take your dog to the vet sooner if you notice certain early signs of joint issues, including:
- Slowing down of movement
- Favoring one side over the other (like carrying weight on one leg when sitting)
- Disinterest in play or exercise
- General lethargy
All of these symptoms can indicate other issues as well, including injuries, so a veterinarian visit is very important.
Now, let’s look at some tips for keeping your dog’s joints healthy, all of which can be implemented from a young age.
Tip #1: Keep Your Dog at a Healthy Weight
A top critical aspect of joint health is your dog’s weight. You see, an overweight dog is placing too much of a weight burden on their joints in order to support their bodies, and this will take its toll as the dog gets older. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight will play a major role in helping their joints last and last. If necessary, consult your veterinarian or a pet nutritionist to figure out what’s needed to bring your dog’s weight down. Besides causing joint problems, being overweight can put your dog at risk of all kinds of health problems, and generally reduce their quality of life.
Tip #2: Make Sure Your Dog Gets Plenty of Exercise
While overuse of the joints can lead to wear and tear over time, your dog needs exercise to maintain mobility and good overall joint health. Take your dogs on regular walks, and even consider forms of exercise that are particularly great for maintaining joint health, like frisbee or swimming. This will make sure that they’re using their joints in a way that keeps them nice and mobile, without demanding so much from them that they risk serious injury or arthritis.
Tip #3: A Good Diet is Key
Diet isn’t just about maintaining a dog’s weight. The right dog food is loaded with nutrients that directly improve your dog’s joint health. For instance, fish oil, particularly in the form of salmon oil, provides the joints with essential fatty acids that improve mobility and cartilage elasticity. Your dog also needs lots of protein to help the joint tissue repair itself. Overall, a diet filled with inflammatory ingredients like wheat and sugar can be damaging to the joints by raising inflammation levels and taking away from their body’s ability to repair itself and maintain homeostasis. Keep in mind, too, that a lot of commercial dog foods contain all kinds of ingredients that are hard on their bodies.
Tip #4: Glucosamine May Help
Glucosamine is a natural compound that acts as a building block to cartilage. It lubricates the joints to keep them healthy and active. You can find glucosamine supplements made for dogs, and they can play a huge role in preserving the joints even as your dog ages. We do recommend consulting your veterinarian before starting your dog on any supplement.
Tip #5: Consider More Advanced Support as They Get Older
The bottom line is, a dog’s joints need to be supported starting from a young age, to prevent serious mobility and pain issues down the line. Basically, our dog’s needs change as they age. And, because the joints are more vulnerable when a dog reaches senior years, you may want to be more proactive when it comes to their daily care. This may mean considering more advanced supplements, or even medications if need be, and being extra conscious of the types of exercise they’re getting, being careful not to force them into situations that would be particularly taxing to the joints.
Tip #6: Incorporate CBD into Their Routine
One of the most potentially proactive things you can do for your dog’s joints is starting them on cannabidiol (CBD) from a young age, incorporating it into their daily routine. CBD is a nontoxic, non-intoxicating derivative of the hemp plant that acts as a cannabinoid, working with the body’s cannabinoid receptors to regulate a variety of critical functions pertaining to your dog’s wellbeing, including the mobility of their joints as well as their levels of physical discomfort.
In fact, a study found that when osteoarthritic dogs were fed CBD, they experienced less pain and more mobility. Because CBD is gentle and generally doesn’t cause concerning side effects, it’s something that you can give them daily and know that you’re contributing to the longevity of their joint health.
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