Joint problems in dogs can develop at any stage in life. Although older dogs are more prone to have problems, other factors, such as genetics, breed, diet and environment, can have an effect. When a dog is slow to get up, reluctant to go up or down stairs or appears to be stiff and slower, a joint issue may be the culprit.
Additional symptoms of joint problems may include:
- joint swelling
- yelping or whining when moving in certain ways
- favoring one leg over another (both when walking and standing still)
- holding one leg up
Understanding joint disorders and how to care for or help prevent them is a key element in giving your dog the highest quality of life possible. Common types of ailments affecting dog joints
are dysplasia of the hip or elbow, arthritis, osteoarthritis, and luxating patella, or “loose kneecaps”. Dysplasia is caused by joint laxity or a loose joint connection. This results in joint instability and makes the dog more prone to slipping, falling and injury.
While dysplasia can affect all breeds of dogs it is most prevalent in mid-sized to larger breeds such as:
- Golden Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
Just as in humans, the joint inflammation of arthritis and the cartilage degeneration of osteoarthritis can occur. Older dogs and overweight dogs are more likely sufferers of these diseases, but any type of dog may be affected. Many have touted the benefits of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine joint disorders in humans and dogs also seem to respond well to these supplements. Also consider an omega 3 supplement for dogs with hip dysplasia to help relieve inflammation and pain. A consultation with your veterinarian will help you to determine what will work best for your dog.
Again, just as in humans, a healthy lifestyle can be the best way to keep joint problems at bay. Keep your dog at a healthy weight with a wholesome diet and by limiting “people food.” Be sure your dog gets plenty of fresh air and exercise and be mindful to keep him hydrated and let him rest if he starts panting too hard.