Whenever a dog owner sees his or her pet leaping around full of energy, it is hard to imagine that there will come a day when the same animal slow down. Unfortunately, age happens among other problems. It’s not just the gray muzzle that forecasts stiff movements. When the animal is having difficulty jumping up on the bed, or is no longer as athletic as before, it can be a sign of difficulty in the joints. Dogs that are overweight are also susceptible to problems such as osteoarthritis. Joint cartilage will deteriorate and there is reduced amount of lubrication between the joints. There are some things that a dog owner can do to make sure that the special member the family maintains healthy joints.
The first and perhaps most important precaution is the weight of the dog. This animal has to be kept lean in order to avoid joint problems. It means taking a look at the dog food and try to find those brands that have more lean meat than carbohydrates. It is going to cost a bit more than the standard brands, but the payoff is a dog that has fewer problems moving around. Supplements that could be considered include Omega-3 fatty acids, and chondroitin supplements. The former are helpful in preventing inflammation, and the latter helps repair joint cartilage. Exercise is important but running may be the worst thing possible for an older dog. Walking, allowing for a gentle exercise of the joints is best.
It is very difficult for any pet owner to watch the animal suffer. As a dog grows older there are a few things that can be done to accommodate stiff joints. The old friend may no longer be able to jump on the bed, but a pet ramp will allow the little buddy to get up on the couch just like before. Wooden and tile floors look great but can cause the dog to slip. Putting a large carpet on the floor will prevent that from happening. The carpet is helpful during the winter in particular, and allows the dog to have warm feet.
Osteoarthritis is not the only joint problem that a dog may suffer from. Hip dysplasia is another condition and it centers on an improperly formed hip socket. It is something seen in hunting dogs such as Labrador retrievers and Newfoundlands, and it require serious attention to weight control. Both osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia may necessitate surgical procedures to relieve the pain the dog is feeling. Arthroscopic cleaning of the joints is one procedure and hip replacement is something that has been successfully used in the past. Other possible medical treatments can include acupuncture and laser therapy to reduce the pain.
Medications have also been prescribed to help a dog with the pain of stiff joints. Carprofen, Deramaxx, and Previcox are the common veterinary medications used. Because dogs may react differently to a given medication, it is very important to work with the veterinarian to determine what the best medication for the pet is. A final way to help a dog experiencing joint problems is physical therapy. Physical therapy was something unheard of before but is becoming increasingly more common. It can include ultrasound therapy and underwater treadmills.
What is interesting about the care of dogs is how it has advanced over the years. Stiffness of joints is something that pet owners would not be concerned about years ago; the cost of treatment was too prohibitive. With the arrival of pet insurance some of the procedures and treatments for joint problems are more affordable. Consulting with the veterinarians on what to do about joint health is a very smart idea. Regarding medical treatments and possible surgery, the owner’s pet insurance may give a better idea how much is covered by the policy.
Many people look at their dog as their best friend. This animal gives affection unconditionally and is a great companion for anyone who lives alone. There will be a time when the dog can no longer spring about like a puppy. That does not mean that this animal will show any less affection for his or her owner. A bond develops between the animal and the owner that is very strong, and the comfort of the dog can be very important. Weight control is probably the best way to keep joint problems from becoming serious. A healthy diet helps maintains a little spring in the step.