Prevention Dog Joint Pain Beats Cure?
Like most of people, we regard our pet as family. When joint pain problems occur, we do everything we can to support our pet. Besides feeding them an healthy diet and exercise are there ways to prevent one of the most difficult issues -Joint pain Problems-?
Joint issues veterinarians see most;
- Avascular necrosis of the femoral head, occurring in the hips of small-breed dogs around the 4 to 6 months. Blood supply to part of the hipbone stops. The puppy may show restrict mobility when walking and / or troubles getting up. This only occurs in puppies, so often a straight forward diagnose for the vet.
- Chondrodystrophoid breeds are genetically inclined to some joint & cartilage disorders. Elbow incongruity may develop. (one leg bone stops growing before the other, causing the elbow joint to not fit and consequently walking will be painful). Basset hounds, Bulldogs and Dachshunds are part of this group.
- Patellar luxation or floating kneecap, mostly seen in small dog breeds. It is a birth defect, causing the dog to skip or hop. The kneecap (patella) is suppose to ride smoothly in a groove over the femur, if the patella dislocate from it's normal groove when the dog is in motion we speak of a patellar luxation.
- Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is a gradual wear or injury to the ligaments around the knee. The dog will limp and surgery is often required for the last 2 conditions.
- Hip dysplasia, when the hip socket hasn't formed properly we may see arthritis developing. Early detecting by X-rays will help a better outcome. Breeds prone to this are ;
- Labrador Retriever
- German Sheppard
- Golden Retriever
- Osteoarthritis , seen mostly in ageing dogs and can affect any joint. It is a degenerative condition from years of wear & tear on the joints.
- To breed a purebred they cross 2 dogs from the exact same gene pool, which is limited. But when the breeder use dogs from the same family gene pool (inbreeding) the risk of genetics defects becomes more significantly with each following coupling.
- Small dogs who we are bred for specific qualities, like short legs
- Large & heavy dogs are prone to Arthritis due to their fast growth and engagement in physical action. The top 10 most likely dogs to develop this are;
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- St Bernards
- Great Danes
- Old English Sheep Dogs
Aids to support the Dogs Health
Some conditions are birth defects and not preventable but good joint nutrition may support healing after operations. In case of any form of Arthritis due to wear & tear, nutrition is important and;
- Weight control will prevent extra wear & tear on joints
- Walking & swimming are good exercises (probably does the owner good as well!)
- Nutritional supplementing with a joint supplement.
Most of us have heard of Arthritis in dog joints and the lameness and pain it can cause to our beloved pets.
But what is Arthritis?
Arthritis means literally inflammation within the joint. Naturally the dogs body uses inflammation as our healing process, as a defense against infections, bacteria or injuries. This type of Arthritis does the opposite and attacks via the immune system the joints. The inflammation it creates can cause damage, pain & less mobility. Tendons, ligaments surrounding the inflamed joint can be affected.
Mechanical or Degenerative Arthritis is mainly damage to the cartilage, which covers the ends of the bones. To help the joints move smoothly the cartilage is smooth. When the cartilage becomes thinner & rough, the bone underneath start repairing this damage but sometimes overgrows which alters the shape of the joint, named Osteoarthritis.
This type of Arthritis affects mainly the joints in older dogs and the ones that had most wear through heavy use like the hip joint. But it can also result from damage to a joint which was fractured or inflamed in the past due to injury, etc.
Pain can be caused by; joints, ligaments, bones, discs, muscles or even other organs inside the body. (referred pain).
It is not always possible to identify the exact cause of the pain, but when it is degenerative osteoarthritis in the spine it's known as spondylosis. This can cause sudden back pain if one of the bones in the spine crunches down and often causes bone spurs.
When the central part of a disc bulges through the outer ring, 'slipped' disc, it causes more often pain in a limb.
What causes arthritis in dogs?
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects one or more joints, and can effect dogs of any age, but is more commonly associated with older and aging dogs. It can result in changes to the cartilage, fluid, bones and capsule of the joint.
- A painful, progressive inflammatory disease of the joints
- The joints most commonly affected are the hip, knee, elbow, shoulder, carpus and spinal column
- Causes damage to the joint cartilage resulting in inflammation causing pain
- Pain associated with arthritis is significant. This pain has a profound impact on mobility and quality of life
- Is an ongoing degenerative condition
There are many things that can cause arthritis in dogs such as:
- Traumatic injuries that result in joint instability
- Obesity - being overweight increases the forces acting on the joint
- Genetically weakened or unstable joints e.g. hip dysplasia
- Failure of proper bone development in young dogs
Arthritis can make your dog miss out on the fun things he used to enjoy.
Signs Your Dog May be Suffering from Arthritis
Limping or favouring one or more limbs after resting or being immobile, which then becomes less noticeable after moving around for a while may be a sign of arthritis.
Your dog may become reluctant to do things that he previously could do with ease. You may notice he has become reluctant to jump in and out of the car, or walk up and down stairs.
Arthritic changes can also develop in parts of the spine, which may result in a sore neck or an abnormal hunching posture. Spinal arthritis can also cause lameness of one or both hind legs.
Your dog may tire more easily than normal. This may mean that walks become shorter and more painful for your dog. Your dog may also spend more time sleeping and/or resting than usual.
Arthritic dogs may become irritable. Where once they were placid and friendly, they may become anxious or aggressive when approached or handled, particularly if the petting or handling takes place in a manner that increases their pain.
- Licking, Chewing & Biting
Dogs affected wth arthritis may also begin to lick at, chew or bite at body areas that are painful. This may even reach the point of causing inflamed skin and hair loss over affected areas.
Arthritis Treatment for Dogs
Though arthritis cannot be cured, there are various remedies and procedures that can help ease the pain for your pet. The good news is, there are safe and effective ways to ease the pain without resorting to drugs or medications. Arthritis is considered a degenerative condition, this means there is no cure and it will inevitably progress. But there are many treatment options than can relieve pain, and may slow progression.
- Weight Loss
This may involve calorie restriction, change in dog food brand, increase in exercise, or a combination of all of the above.
• Fish Oil Supplementation
This can be a very cost effective treatment that has other health benefits in addition to improving joint function
• A Healthy Diet
This is the foundation of your dog’s health! A fresh food meat based diet works best for most arthritic dogs.
Supplements specifically for joint health such as chondroitin and glucosamine are a great choice for your dog also herbal formulations such a tumeric based supplement.
Similar to chiropractic, acupuncture can increase joint mobility. The insertion of needles improves blood flow to tight muscles. Relieving muscle tension permits joints to move better. Acupuncture also works as a pain control method, allowing reduced doses of other drugs or supplements
• Laser Therapy
Also called “low level laser”, this is light at specific frequencies absorbed by the cells. Laser therapy has similar benefits and mechanisms of action to acupuncture. It can reduce pain, relieve muscle spasm, and improve joint motion
Getting your dog in the water will allow joints to move more freely! This is a great non-drug way to improve mobility and relieve pain. Depending on your dog’s preferences and specific problems, free swimming may work great, or you may get better results with water treadmill exercise. It can also be a great way to help your dog lose weight
• Modifying The Environment
You might get a ramp for your dog to get in and out of the car, or to avoid steps. You can lay down runner carpet over hard wood floors to reduce those slip’n’slide moves that sometimes happen to older dogs with weaker hind ends.
Some dogs appreciate a softer bed, or a raised canvas bed. A good bedding area is important so the dog can find a comfortable position for restful sleep.
No one wants to see their dog getting older or being in pain. But don’t despair if your canine friend has arthritis! There are many ways to help relieve pain, improve function, and extend quality of life for your beloved pets.
How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?
How much exercise a dog needs can vary quite dramatically between breeds as well as individual dogs. Working breeds such as Border Collies usually require a lot more exercise than smaller breeds such as Pugs or Chihuahuas. Regardless of your dog's breed, there are some signs that can tell you your dog needs more activity.
What you need to keep in mind before starting a new exercise routine
Don't begin, or drastically increase your dog's exercise regimen, without speaking first to your veterinarian to check that your dog is medically capable of handling it. Be sure your dog has plenty of fresh water during exercise, and don't overdo it in hot temperatures.
Is Your Dog Overweight?
If your dog is overweight it is because he/she is taking in more calories than burning. This means that he/she may need to go on a diet. Exercise can certainly improve the situation. There are many reasons for keeping your dog at a good weight, most important is it promotes good physical and mental health, and consequently a happier dog.
Is Your Dog Destructive?
Dogs do sometimes destroy belongings or property accidentally, especially curious puppies. Chronic boredom, however, may lead to your dog developing excessive destructive habits, especially when left at home on their own. Adequate play and exercise may help eliminate this problem. Playing with, walking, and exercising your dog can tire him out, making him less likely to take out his boredom on your property.
Does Your Dog Bark Excessively?
Excessive barking is another anti-social behaviour that dogs may develop through no other reason than boredom and needing more play and exercise time. Barking may be the result of either boredom or anxiety, both of which may be improved by more play and exercise time during the day. Barking excessively can also be separation anxiety when left at home on their own, or just part of the dog's individual personality. However, a dog that has enjoyed plenty of exercise with their owner will be less likely to bark than one that is bored or lonely.
Does Your Dog Not Sleep Well?
Just like human beings, a dog that doesn't get enough exercise during the day is less likely to sleep well at night. Making sure that your dog is tired out is a great way to ensure that he won't be up all night pacing around, causing trouble, and looking for someone to play with him.
Does Your Dog Crave Attention All The Time?
All dogs have individual personalities – some like a lot of human attention, while others can appear quite indifferent and independent. There is no wrong or right, but a dog that incessantly brings you a ball, nudges you, or whines and stares at you all day may need more exercise. These behaviours can indicate boredom, so try increasing your dog's exercise time if your dog is engaging in them, and note if as a result, the ‘craving attention’ behaviour decreases.
Does Your Dog Pull on the Leash Excessively?
If your dog consistently pulls hard on the leash whenever you walk him, even though he's been properly trained to heel, it may indicate that he has too much pent-up energy and not enough exercise. Unfortunately, a dog that pulls on the leash excessively may receive less exercise because the owner is reluctant to subject him or herself to the experience. If possible, tire your dog out a bit with a game of fetch or tug-of-war before walking; your dog will be less likely to pull exuberantly if he's tuckered out.
A Few Good Dog Exercises
If you have decided that your dog needs more exercise here are some ideas to help you spend more time with him or her. You can try walking, playing fetch, or playing tug of war. If your dog is a member of a working breed that needs even more exercise than other dogs, consider agility training. And if you get worn-out before your dog does, you can even take a rest and supervise while your dog plays with a tether tug toy.
If your dog is well-trained and good with other dogs, a dog park is a great place for canine socialization and exercise. Keep in mind that some exercises aren't suitable for all dogs. There are many breeds of dog, and they all have different exercise requirements. Some small breeds, such as Jack Russell Terriers are extremely active and will resort to destructive behaviours if left bored for too long, while larger dog breeds such as the Mastiff prefer to have a more sedentary lifestyle.
So don’t assume a dogs size dictates how much activity they require. Dogs with short faces can't do the same intensity of exercising as other dogs, and those with short legs and long backs are more vulnerable to spinal injuries from jumping/twisting forms of activity. Check with your veterinarian if you aren't sure whether a certain type of exercise is appropriate for your dog.
The market for dog and puppy bedding is vast. Choosing what product to purchase can be confusing and overwhelming when trying to decide what is best for your dog. There are a couple of rules however, that you should keep in mind, when wading through the options.
Dog Bedding? What to choose?
The idea of having bedding for your dog is so that he can have his own warm and comfortable place in the house to call his own where he can go to sleep or rest. Some people like to set up a crate as a bed – this has the advantage of the dog already being accustomed to his crate when it’s time to travel or confine him to the crate for a period of time. Others choose the option of an open bed raised off the floor – rather like a hammock.
Whatever method you choose it's a good idea to purchase your dog his own bedding for him to use. However, it's important that you choose the proper dog bedding for an outdoor kennel or inside bed, because this can have an impact on your pet's comfort level, his behavior and even his long term health.
If your dog is likely to play outside a good deal of the time it is a good idea that the material that you purchase for your pet's bedding is waterproof and moisture resistant. Dogs often come in to lay down on their bedding after being outside in the rain. It's possible that your dog’s coat and feet will be wet when he comes inside, and as he lays down the bedding can become wet. Waterproof and moisture resistant bedding will be better able to resist the growth of mold and other potentially harmful bacteria. It will also retain its appearance and smell better than non-moisture resistant or waterproof bedding will.
It's crucial that the bedding that you buy for your dog be washable. You'll want to regularly remove the covering of the bedding to wash it and keep it clean. This not only keeps the smell of the bedding from becoming a frustrating nuisance for you and your family, but it also works to keep the bedding itself hygienic and clean, which in turn can help your dog to be less likely to get sick from laying on it regularly. Regularly washing your dogs bedding will also ensure it remains warm and comfortable for your dog to sleep on.
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