While there is no cure for this condition, it's not a hopeless situation. There's a multitude of ways to manage your dog's joint discomfort and help your canine companion feel as good as possible. In this guide, we'll help you learn how to help a dog with joint problems at home.
What Are Dog Joint Issues ?
Similar to human joint problems, canine joint issues result from the gradual deterioration of joint cartilage, which is the sturdy yet flexible connective tissue that allows joints to move freely and smoothly.
Some reasons a dog might develop joint discomfort include:
- Age: As dogs get older, certain functions are more at risk of breaking down. Although advanced age doesn't cause joint issues, it's usually a factor in senior dogs.
- Dog Breed: Larger breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors, German Shepherds, Great Danes are more prone to developing joint problems. Dogs with bigger body frames and more weight put extra pressure on their joints, making the cartilage more susceptible to repetitive stress.
- Injury: If your dog has had an injury such as a fracture or torn ligament, it could cause abnormal rubbing in the joints.
- Infections or Illness: Bacterial or fungal infections can trigger the deterioration of joint cartilage.
- Genetic Predisposition: Hereditary issues can create malformed, misaligned, and therefore problematic joints.
Signs of a Dog with Joint Issues
Since your beloved pet can't tell you when they're in discomfort, it's critical that you pay attention and look for signs that might indicate they're struggling with joint problems. Tell your vet if you notice changes in your dog's posture, the way they move, and their level of activity. The doctor will likely want to examine your dog, run blood tests, and conduct X-rays to properly diagnose your pet and offer treatment options.
Some canine joint issue symptoms to look for include:
- Rising slowly and having trouble getting up
- Appearing to be stiff instead of flexible
- Walking slowly or limping
- Reluctance to play, run, or jump
- Struggling to lie down or find a comfortable position
- Flinching or whimpering when touched or petted
- Lameness (this is often a sign of joint discomfort in older dogs)
- Limbs becoming thinner and less muscular
- Swelling in joint areas
7 Ideas for How To Help a Dog With Joint Problems at Home
Once you get your pet properly diagnosed by the vet, discuss the different ways you can help keep your dog comfortable. Here are the top options for how to help a dog with joint issues at home.
1. Foods that support healthy inflammatory response
Since joint discomfort is an inflammation of the joints, consider feeding your dog a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. Look for high-quality dog food with omega-3 fatty acids. Like humans, dogs cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids on their own, so it's important they get them through diet. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are usually a good choice as long as your dog doesn't have an allergy. You can add Pet Honesty's omega-3 fish oil directly to your dog's food.
2. Regular Exercise
Along with feeding your dog a nutritious diet, make sure you're engaging them in regular physical movement. If you have a big dog or your dog could stand to lose a few pounds, exercising is key for relieving joint pressure. Whether it's going for leash walks, playing fetch, doing doggy yoga, or swimming, make sure the physical activity is comfortable for their fitness level.
3. Dietary Supplements
Supplements support a dog's overall healthy lifestyle at any age, but they become increasingly important as your dog gets older. Scientific research shows that supplements can promote joint health and flexibility. Look for the following ingredients to support a healthy inflammatory response:
- Vitamin C: Not only does vitamin C help keep your dog's immune system going strong, it also helps support a healthy response in the body to inflammation.
- Glucosamine: This naturally occurring compound promotes joint support and digestive health.
- Turmeric: This yellow-orange spice has been found useful in helping with joint discomfort .
- Chondroitin: Numerous studies show that this substance (naturally found in cartilage) improves joint issues in dogs, especially when combined with glucosamine.
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): This naturally-occurring organic sulfur source supports joint mobility and elasticity.
All of these ingredients are in Pet Honesty’s selection of hip and joint supplements.
4. Doggy Massage
Before trying this at home, you may want to visit a certified canine massage therapist so you can learn the proper techniques for massaging your dog. Massage is a soothing and effective way to promote circulation, improve flexibility, improve joint discomfort, and boost overall well-being. Acupressure and acupuncture are also options, although these are much more challenging to do at home.
5. Comfy Bedding
It might sound obvious, but setting up a comfortable space for your dog to sleep and rest their joints is a must. Special dog beds can offer more support and cushion for your dog's joints.
6. Joint Discomfort Medications
There are two primary types of drugs that are often used to treat a dog's joint discomfort: steroidal and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Steroids such as prednisone can reduce swelling and discomfort, while NSAIDs (ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen, for example) can also help with discomfort.
But as with any prescription medication, they come with side effects. As such, before you resort to giving your dog drugs — either over-the-counter or prescription — try a combination of the other at-home approaches on this list.
Help Your Precious Pet Feel Better
As a loving pet owner, you want the best for your four-legged friend. And while joint discomfort is a common condition for senior dogs, large breeds, and dogs with an injury, illness, or inherited predisposition, it can happen to any dog at any stage of life. Even though you cannot eliminate joint issues completely, you can make life more comfortable for your beloved canine.