To understand joint pain, first, we need to explain joint health and how joints work. A joint is the meeting point of two bones that allows movement. Some of the most common joints include the shoulders, elbows, knees, and hips.
While in a healthy joint, the bones should fit perfectly with each other, only being separated by cartilage and liquid known as synovial fluid. This prevents the bones from rubbing against each other, which could lead to joint problems.
In the event of joint disease, the joint structures are altered, and the two bone surfaces are rubbing against each other. This is more common in older dogs and impacts the quality of life.
There are two types of joint issues that could be leading to your dog’s pain. These include:
- Developmental Joint Issues. Developmental joint issues are, in fact, genetic joint conditions that dogs are born with. Over time, they tend to progress and worsen. Common examples of such joint problems are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and cruciate ligament issues. These are common in certain dog breeds like German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Newfoundlands.
- Degenerative Joint Issues. Degenerative joint issues develop over time due to natural wear and tear. They can occur in all dog breeds, but obesity and old age tend to be predispositions. The most common degenerative joint disease in dogs is osteoarthritis.
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Limping and impaired mobility are the most common signs of dog joint pain. Here is a close look at some of the main signs:
- Limping/Lameness. If your dog is seen limping or has lame feet, chances are they have joint problems. Keep an eye out for joint problems. You can consult a vet for possible treatment options.
- Swelling at the Joints. Your dog’s joints may start to swell as inflammation starts to build up on their joints. You might have to administer anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease inflammation.
- Change in Walking. If your dog has changed its walking style, chances are that they have some or other joint problems. It could be a sign of joint problems like arthritis in dogs.
- Reduced Willingness to Exercise. Your dog will refuse to move around if they are going through joint pain. It also might make it difficult for them to stand still for prolonged periods.
- Lethargy. Your dog may sleep or lie down a lot more if they have any symptoms of joint pain. They also might have a loss of muscle mass that could lead to lethargy.
- Difficulty Climbing Higher Surfaces. Your dog might have problems climbing high spaces, including getting into the car, climbing the stairs, or getting onto the bed.
- Excessive Licking. Dogs tend to lick their painful sites in an attempt to relieve the pain. In the case of dog joint pain, your pet will likely lick its arthritic joints.
Joint pain can be triggered by a number of factors. Conditions like hip dysplasia are among the most common reasons. However, there are several other factors too that can cause this.
Some of the other causes include:
- Physical Trauma. If your dog has had an accident in the past or is recovering from some sort of injury, it might end up with joint pain.
- Old Age. This is among the most common reasons for joint pain. As your dog ages, its joints might go through more wear and tear, leading to joint pain.
- Body Weight. An overweight dog will have more pressure on its joints. Therefore, their mobility might get hampered because of joint pain.
- Breed Type. Some dog breeds like large Rottweilers and German Shepherds are more prone to developing joint pain.
- Poor Diet. If your dog has a poor diet or has been eating unhealthy snacks for a long time, they might have to ensure joint pain in the long run.
There are several over-the-counter supplements pet owners can use for managing dog joint pain.
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The dog joint supplement improves collagen synthesis and helps regenerate the connective tissue. It also helps to soothe existing inflammations and provides joint support that improves your dog’s energy, mobility, and overall flexibility.
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Even if your dog does not have any joint pain or joint diseases, you can still take precautions so that they don’t get it in the future. By helping your dog lead a healthy lifestyle, you can prevent and delay the onset of joint pain. Some of the common methods to do the same include:
- Healthy Diet. By giving your dog, high-quality food rich in beneficial nutrients can help prevent diseases including arthritis and other joint diseases. A good diet has to be balanced and provide all the necessary nutrients, particularly those that support bone health.
- Physical Exercise. In order to improve your dog’s skeletal system and mobility, make sure that your dog gets enough physical exercise. Keeping your dog active is key in preventing joint problems. It will also support weight loss which helps relieve the pressure from the joints.
- Regular Vet Visits. In addition to a healthy diet and exercise, make sure that you take your dog for regular vet checkups. Also, make sure that their vaccinations are completed timely.
- Supplements and Meds. The reviewed supplements can be used to manage dog joint pain. However, if they are not enough, the vet will prescribe anti-pain meds, usually non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The use of NSAIDs in dogs requires close monitoring as side effects are possible.
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There are several ways for natural relief of dog joint pain:
- Maintain a Healthy Weight. Joints are crucial in supporting your dog’s weight. The more your dog weighs, the more pressure will be on its joints. As a result, maintaining a healthy weight can minimize the pressure you put on your dog’s joints. This holds true, especially for large breed dogs. Weight management is vital for healthy joints.
- Low Impact Exercise. While exercise is important, it can add pressure to your dog’s skeletal system. As a result, low-impact exercise can also improve your dog’s muscular strength, bone health, and overall mobility.
- Provide an Orthopedic Bed. While regular mattresses are considered comfortable, a sick dog can face joint problems because of them. Therefore, orthopedic mattresses have been designed to offer optimal support for your dog even during times of illness by reducing the pressure on your dog’s body.
- Massage Therapy. This is an unusual technique that can greatly benefit your dog’s overall joint health. A full-body massage can act as a great pain remedy and also promote blood circulation. This leads to healing and improves the chances of recovery.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a bit more advanced as compared to other remedies. This is a therapeutic technique where needles are inserted into the skin to promote healing. While the research is not conclusive, many vets abide by its results.
- Physical Therapy. This is a holistic form of therapy where physical movement is used to treat the problems instead of drugs and medication. This is perfect for dogs with arthritis as it improves joint mobility. Hydrotherapy is a form of physical therapy which is done underwater. This reduces the pressure on your dog’s aching joints.
Joint pain is chronic, and it can only be managed (reduced to a level that allows the dog to have a normal and high-quality life).
The exact time frame in which the joint pain is managed depends on the severity of the pain and the type of medication or supplement used. In general, strong anti-pain meds can achieve pain relief in a matter of hours, while natural supplements can take up to a few weeks to start working.