Joint and mobility issues are commonly considered to be senior dog health problems. While slowing down is a natural part of aging, it’s worth noting that joint problems can affect dogs of all ages.
Joint discomfort is often subtle and hard to notice at first. However, the earlier it’s detected and addressed, the better. If left unaddressed, your dog’s joint discomfort could lead to more serious injuries or health conditions down the road.
Causes of Dog Joint Discomfort
Some dog joint issues are developmental, meaning that they did not grow and develop correctly, resulting in poor mobility and joint function.
Other dog joint issues are degenerative, meaning your pooch has been experiencing a gradual loss of mobility over time.
That said, there are a few factors that can contribute to dog joint discomfort, whether his mobility issues were always present or happened over time.
Breed. Some breeds are simply more prone to certain joint and mobility issues than others, due to their genetic makeup.
Weight. If your dog is overweight, he’s constantly putting added pressure on his joints. (Plus, an unhealthy diet can also have negative effects on the joints.)
Underlying health issues. Various health conditions can affect or exacerbate your dog’s joint discomfort. Your vet will be able to tell you whether your dog has any existing health conditions that need to be addressed.
Injury. Trauma to the joints can lead to long-term problems, especially if an injury doesn’t heal correctly. Even if your dog didn’t originally injure one of his joints, he may modify the way he walks which can lead to joint issues over time.
- Regular wear and tear. If your dog’s favorite hobbies involve physical activity, all that running and jumping is bound to take a toll. This doesn’t mean you should refrain from exercise, though!
Signs of Joint Discomfort in Dogs
If your dog has previously been sick or injured, you’ve likely picked up on the fact that dogs don’t make their discomfort obvious. In fact, dogs instinctively hide their discomfort in order to avoid appearing vulnerable.
While your dog’s joint discomfort may be hard to notice at first, there are a few tell-tale signs to be on the lookout for. Five common signs of joint discomfort in dogs include:
We often think of “slowing down” as a simple sign of getting older, in humans and dogs alike. However, there’s a good chance that your dog’s decreased mobility is a sign of joint problems that need to be addressed.
You may notice your dog slowing down as evidenced by: a reluctance to get up and move; avoiding stairs or jumping onto the couch; and stiffness.
Decreased energy levels overall are also a common sign of joint issues. After all, discomfort is exhausting!
As your dog’s joint discomfort becomes more apparent, you may notice changes in the ways he walks. Perhaps he’s limping or favoring one leg over others; perhaps he’s significantly changed his gait or started “bunny hopping” while he runs.
You may also see changes in the way your dog stands. For example, he may stand in a closed hind leg stance or wide front leg stance in order to shift his weight away from problematic joints.
Sensitivity to Touch
Second only to eating treats, getting pet is nearly every dog’s favorite hobby. However, if you find that your pooch avoids being touched or yelps when you pet him in certain spots, you’ve likely identified an area of discomfort.
If your dog’s joints are making him feel irritated, you may find him paying more attention to certain areas of his body.
If he’s constantly licking, chewing, or biting at particular joints (sometimes even to the point of hair loss and/or irritated skin), that’s a pretty good indication of joint discomfort.
Changes in Behavior
If your dog is in constant discomfort, he may become more irritable. He may also become more withdrawn, and stop sticking to his beloved routine.
If he starts losing interest in favored walks and playtime, you can confidently say that you’ve identified a major red flag.
You know your dog best. Anytime you notice changes to his appearance or behavior, it’s a good idea to contact your vet.
Addressing Your Dog’s Joint Discomfort
While many dog joint issues are irreversible, there are fortunately several ways to slow their development and keep the discomfort under control.
For example, your vet may prescribe medications to help with your dog’s joint health. Depending on the severity of the joint issues, surgical procedures—along with physical therapy, acupuncture, massages, and more—can also be an option.
One of the best things you can do as a pet owner is to feed your dog a healthy diet throughout his life to boost his health from the inside out. (This, along with joint-friendly exercises, can also help to keep your dog’s weight under control.)
Dietary supplements can also play a major role in your dog’s joint health. For example, if your dog still has a solid spring in his step, we recommend giving him glucosamine supplements sooner rather than later to maintain joint health and keep further issues at bay.
PetHonesty’s JointSupport+ can also support your dog’s joints. These vet-recommended soft chews consist of powerful mobility-boosting ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and fish oil. Not only can these chews ease your dog’s joint aches, but they also come in a tasty hickory-smoked bacon flavor!