Have your children run off to college leaving you to care for the aging family dog? Or, perhaps you rescued an older dog from your local pet shelter? Either way, chances are you’ve learned to love your furry pet and seeing him in pain is the last thing you want. But if you’ve noticed him slowing down, unable to jump up to his favorite chair, or verbally letting you know he’s hurting, it’s time to do something about it. As dogs get older, they become more susceptible to hip and joint pain, especially if they are larger breed dogs. There are ways to help the pain and potentially slow down the progression of aging joints.
Causes of Dog Hip & Joint Pain
When your dog ages, the surface of his cartilage can become thin and the cells can die, releasing enzymes that cause swelling and the release of joint fluid. Bony growths can also occur as can muscle atrophy. One of the most common reasons your dog may be experiencing pain in his hip and joint is called hip dysplasia. This disorder is when your dog’s hip joint is not formed properly, allowing the bone to move around which wears on the joint. Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition and is particularly prevalent in large breed dogs, although small breed dogs can also have this condition. There are many circumstances that influence the advancement of hip dysplasia in dogs, but the two most common causes are genetics and diet.
If you have a large or giant breed puppy, be sure to pay attention to the special dietary requirements that these breeds have. They need specially formulated puppy foods and can often benefit from a hip and joint supplement.
Besides genetics and diet, your dog’s level of activity and exercise can also contribute to hip and joint ailments. With little activity, your dog may become obese which puts extra stress on your dog’s joints. This can cause hip dysplasia or make it worse. You may be surprised to learn that too much exercise can also be a problem which is why hip dysplasia often affects working dogs like the Australian Shepherd, the St. Bernard, and the Great Dane. You can the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals’ database to see how likely your breed of dog is to develop hip dysplasia.
How To Recognize Your Dog’s Joint & Hip Pain
Your dog might start to show signs of hip dysplasia as young as four months old, while other dogs develop it in connection with osteoarthritis as they age. Either way, there are many symptoms that you should be on the lookout for in your dog including:
- Stiffness or pain in the hips
- Problems standing for long periods
- Choosing one leg over the other
- Reduced activity
- Limited range of motion
- Difficulty or reluctance rising, jumping, running, or climbing stairs
- Lameness in the hind end
- Narrow stance
- Swaying, “bunny hopping” gait
- Grating in the joint during movement
- Noticeable enlargement of the shoulder muscles as they compensate for the hind end
If you noticed any of the symptoms above, consider taking your dog to your local veterinarian where he or she can complete a physical exam of your dog. They will be able to diagnose hip dysplasia or other problem that might be causing your dog’s hip and joint pain by moving the limbs and watching for your dog’s response to any pain. They will also take X-Rays to look inside at what might be causing him pain.
How To Relieve Your Dog’s Hip Pain
If your dog’s run has become a walk, or he only wants to move in order to go outside to the bathroom, chances are he may be in pain. As dogs live longer there is more of a chance that they may develop hip dysplasia which can develop into osteoarthritis or other degenerative joint diseases (DJD). Consider these options from VetIQ that you can do at home to relieve your dog’s hip and joint pain.
Improve Home Atmosphere
As you would with an aging adult, consider making your dog more comfortable. Provide a padded place to sleep that is not near cold or moist air. Consider ramps or extra steps to more easily navigate to beds, couches or down outside stairs. If you have wood floors, consider putting pet boots or traction socks with a non-slip grip on your pooch to help your dog grip the floor and keep them from falling.
Whether you know it or not, there are certified canine massage therapists who can either perform and/or teach you to perform muscle massages on your dog’s aching joints which will stimulate the flow of blood to atrophying muscles. Check out https://iaamb.org/ to find one near you!
Hip & Joint Supplements
Many veterinarians and dog owners have discovered the positive benefits of hip and joint supplements and vitamins as a form of medicine for dog hip and joint pain. VetIQ® Maximum Strength Hip & Joint is one of the best hip & joint care supplements for dogs because of its active ingredients that include glucosamine, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Ingredients like these help support joint cartilage, lubricate joints and help maintain muscles. These also often come in the form of dog treats, making it easy and comfortable to give to your dog daily. It’s always advisable to consult with your vet before beginning any regimen of supplements.
Providing your dog with an exercise plan based on his age and current weight is an important element for overall hip and joint health. Going for a run with your dog is not necessary, and not always advised. A simple walk around the block may be more the pace your dog needs. Your vet may prescribe aquatic exercises for dogs who have more severe hip and joint pain.
In addition to the above home strategies you can implement, your vet may recommend medical treatments such as surgery, acupuncture, herbs, laser treatment, and prescription drugs to help treat your dog’s hip and joint pain. Drugs often have less than desirable side effects, and some can be irreversible. For serious pain, they make wheelchairs and slings that can support your dog’s weight and relieve the pressure on their joint.
Find The Best Hip & Joint Supplements at VetIQ Today!
If your dog is exhibiting any symptoms of hip or joint pain, don’t wait. Talk to your vet to develop a specific plan of action that can prevent the progression of hip and joint disorders. If you’re looking for the best dog hip and joint supplement, you can find VetIQ® Maximum Strength Hip & Joint supplement dog treats at your local retailer. With proper treatment and care dogs with hip and joint pain or disorders can still lead long, happy lives.