What is the best joint support for senior dogs? It’s a question we are asked often.
Here at Leesville Animal Hospital, we have a particularly soft spot for senior pets. Unfortunately, however, a lot of the senior pets that we see every day come to us because of stiffness, lameness, and trouble with their joints as a result of the aging process. As a pet owner, watching your senior pet experience these difficulties can be particularly disheartening, but today we are going to talk about some of the things that you can do to help to make your senior pet more comfortable in terms of joint support for senior dogs.
Joint Support For Senior Dogs
As your dog ages, they may begin to develop a range of joint symptoms that are related to aging. Depending on the size, weight, and age of your dog, you may notice these symptoms earlier or later in life. Some of the signs of discomfort that you may begin to notice include:
- Knuckling (walking with the foot upturned as though walking on the knuckles)
- Licking or biting at joints
- Stiffness in joints
- Difficulty getting up from a prone position
- Slow pace
- Difficulty going up the stairs
- Cracking or popping in the joints
- Reluctance to take part in activities they once enjoyed such as running after a tennis ball
- Slowness to rise or lie down
We should note that some of these symptoms can be a sign of other medical concerns and when you first notice any of these signs in your dog, you should consult your veterinarian to ensure that they are a result of the natural aging process.
So…what causes these symptoms?
The cause of these symptoms in older dogs is most often the result of arthritis, muscle atrophy as a result of aging, and degeneration of the joints. These are things that are not only common in our pets, but they are also seen frequently in us as we age as well!
What can you do?
The course of treatment for your older pet will depend upon your their health and is something that you should sit down with your vet and discuss. After taking all things into consideration, your vet will be able to tell you the best course of treatment for your aging dog. Some of the most common recommendations for senior pets with joint discomfort include:
- Control of your pet’s weight. Excess weight puts excess strain on your pet’s joints.
- Maintain frequent exercise. Exercising can be tricky with older dogs because it can be difficult for them despite being necessary for their joint health. Consider hydrotherapy for low impact exercise, short and less challenging walks, specialized exercises for strengthening joints, and physical therapy.
- Talk to your vet about anti-inflammatory medications to help to control inflammation in the joints.
- Consider adding pain control medications to help to control pain associated with joint changes.
- Add a high-quality fish oil supplement to your dog’s diet.
- Consider a joint support supplement containing glucosamine chondroitin with MSM.
- Talk to your pet about other medicines that could help your pet such as Adequan injections.
- Provide an orthopedic support bed. These beds make rising and lying down easier on the joints by providing more support. They also help to provide support under the joints while your dog is lying down.
- Ensure that your dog’s joints are kept warm in cold weather. Cold weather can exacerbate joint difficulties in older dogs, ensure that your dog’s bed is located away from drafts and provide warm blankets.
- Utilize ice after physical activity to reduce swelling in joints. Make sure that ice packs are wrapped in a towel to avoid ice burns to the area.
- Offer your pet support when needed. At some point, you may find that your dog needs additional support, particularly when it comes to going up or downstairs. You can help to provide that additional support by investing in a good, high-quality harness such as the Help ‘Em Up Harness.
Want more guidance in helping your pet to cope with the effects of aging on their joints? Give us a call today and make an appointment with one of our vets to discuss your pet’s health.