One animal that humans have come to love and cherish so much is the dog. It is often regarded as the best friend to humans. Aside from being owned as tender pets, they also serve a lot of other purposes in our lives today. These range from security and warfare, to games and sports, guidance, and emotional support.
In order to get the best out of the services your dog can render, it has to be in good shape and in the best of health. This may however not always be the case.
One of the most common problems these canine friends or ours face is joint related. This happens because, just like in every other human, a lifetime of intensive use will definitely result in some sort of wear and tear which might at some point degenerate into a greater challenge.
Most of them suffer from arthritis as they age, and this painful condition results when cartilage, the cushioning between the bones, begins to thin and wear away. Consequently, the ends of the bone begin to rub against each other, causing pain and inflammation.
Things to know about Joint Challenges
- It is a common occurrence that can happen to them as they age. This should not be too surprising because, just as the human body, their bodies will develop certain challenges overtime.
- Big dogs are much more likely to have these sorts of challenges especially as they age. This is because their extra weight adds more pressure on the different parts of their body, especially their joints.
- Those that have passed through strict training regimens or have been used for sporting purposes are also more prone to these challenges. This is because the intensity of their training regimen causes strains on their joints and other body parts which in turn affect them as they age.
- While general joint challenges can and may be prevented, it cannot be cured or reversed once it starts occurring. However, its progress and effects can be stalled, thereby preventing the condition from degenerating very quickly into something worse.
What Preventive Measures can be Taken?
As earlier stated, these challenges occur because of the strains and injuries to which the joints might have been exposed or subjected. For those ones that are competitive and extremely active, these strains are inevitable.
The good news however is that regardless of how seemingly inevitable this condition is, there are a number of preventive care that can help. The following are therefore steps that must be taken to minimize their effects so that your dog doesn’t have to be resigned to a life of pain and discomfort:
- Start a nutritionally sound diet early – The joints of puppies require a slower but steady rate of growth through nutritionally complete diets. This will prevent some developmental orthopedic diseases that may be exacerbated by rapid growth which can be noticed when it gains weight faster than its bones can handle.
- Take it to the vet regularly – Regular visits to the veterinarian and regular comprehensive examinations are advised to help diagnose, detect and treat any signs of joint pain or challenges.
- Exercise them the right way – Excessive running on hard surfaces can impede proper bone growth, especially in the hip joints. Any exercise they are to be engaged in (daily walks, swimming, etc.) should take the body type into consideration.
- Ask your vet about dog joint supplements – Joint supplements with the right combination of nutrients can help slow down the loss of cartilage and keep your pet comfortable for a long period.
You can read more about preventive care for dogs here.
Overview of The Generally Approved Treatments
The most recommended treatment mode is treatment through supplements. Though, in some cases there might be the need for surgery.
These supplements, sometimes called nutraceuticals, are dietary substances in the form of tablets, capsules, or liquid, often prescribed for dogs with arthritis and other forms of joint or hip pain. They are also prescribed for specific species or breeds that are more vulnerable to these challenges, and for those recovering from surgery.
The most common trifecta ingredients you want to look for in these supplements are Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM. Glucosamine stimulates cartilage growth, which pads their joints, and is scientifically proven to decrease their pain and improve its mobility.
Other common ingredients include Beta Glucans, Green Lipped Mussel, Omega 3, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Hyalutonic acid, Manganese and Turmeric.
It may take as little as 2 weeks or as long as 70 days to see marked improvements in condition when placed on glucosamine. But just as it takes a while for there to be an improvement, it also takes a while for the beneficial effects of glucosamine to fade once supplementation is discontinued.
Most of these joint supplements are administered orally and are also often available in certain dog foods.
Uses of These Supplements
These supplements are often used to alleviate pain and wear caused by hip dysplasia or other structural changes. They also aid in the treatment of spinal disc injury, recovery from joint surgery, and they help keep performance dogs in peak condition.
Most effective and FDA approved supplements are able to do the following:
- Offer natural anti-inflammatory action – to sooth stiff joints.
- Keep joint fluid healthy – to ease movement.
- Feed the cartilage – to keep it strong and smooth.
- Repair the cartilage – to boost the repair of damaged cartilage, specifically the articular cartilage.
In addition to treating the older ones, these supplements are also commonly used for working dogs which are at a higher risk of developing arthritis as a result of the amount of exercise they do.
In view of all of the above, it is important that you know when to go to a veterinary doctor to help diagnose whatever might be the condition and prescribe a suitable supplement. This is to prevent any adverse effects that may result from using supplements unsuitable for your pet’s condition.
Considerations When Choosing Joint Supplements
It can be quite daunting when deciding on the most suitable supplement to give to your ailing pet. This is because there are so many options out there that you might not just know where to begin. Given this, here’s a checklist to guide you when looking to narrow down your options and get the best product:
- What are the active ingredients?
- Are there side effects or side benefits?
- What flavors or types of pills will my dog receive?
- How soon will I know that a supplement is working?
Here’s the bottom line; getting your most useful pet the best care it deserves is a must! The care to be provided should be both preventive and curative. If there is no challenge yet but there is reasonable suspicion that it could be prone to it, take action. If there already exist such a condition, take curative actions immediately.