As dogs age, their joint health can prohibit them from playing, running, jumping, even greeting you at the door! Without proper care, the damage could be irreversible, so precautions should be taken.
First, let’s take a look at what comprises joint health in dogs:
- Connecting bones make up the structure of the joint, and how they were developed determines the stability of the joint itself.
- Joint Cartilage is a firm connective tissue between the bones. As in humans, it prohibits the bones from rubbing together. When it’s damaged, bone is exposed to bone and can result in inflammation, as well as pain.
- Synovium and Synovial Fluid also protects the bones from grinding together. It works as a lubricant between the cartilage and the bone itself.
- Ligaments are restrictive fibers that keep the bones from moving out of place.
When any one of these factors is affected, the overall health of the joint is compromised, so identifying the signs early on is important. Fortunately, your pup won’t be able to hide their symptoms; they should be fairly obvious to you, but here’s what to look out for:
- Limping or favoring one side
- Standing with only front legs
- Refusal to jump or climb stairs
- Swollen joints
- Muscle degeneration
- Licking affected joint excessively
- Changes in temperament
- Depression or lethargic behavior
The process of officially diagnosing joint problems and any underlying causes will require a trip to the vet for a physical examination, a biopsy of the suspected affected joint and some bloodwork. From there your vet can determine if there is an underlying infection at work that might be easily treated with some antibiotics or something like an autoimmune disease, which will require some extended care.
Or, very simply, it might just be that your dog is getting old. Like us, their joints are affected from a lifetime of movement. Whatever the cause, we know you’re really wondering: What can I do for my dog?
There are preventative measures you can take like helping your dog keep a lean figure, improving their diet, encouraging low impact exercises, using the ramps instead of stairs, but one key measure is little often discussed: sleeping habits.
Not just how often they sleep, but how their body heals when they sleep. That can only happen with the right dog bed. Traditional dog beds are rough and can lead to stiff joints overtime, or fast-track joint health issues too early on. But the right dog bed will alleviate pressure across the boy to help reduce joint stiffness and promote increased mobility.
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