Myhills would like to remind dog owners about their pet’s mobility. Like humans, most animals feel the ageing process. There are obvious signs that present themselves when a dog becomes uncomfortable. Canine joint issues are only worsened by winter, so we will tell you why this is and what to look out for.
Unfortunately, many dogs, particularly older and overweight ones will suffer with some type of joint and mobility problem at some stage in their lives. Over the winter months when temperature drops, joints become stiffer, pain is more acute and blood flow reduced. Good nutrition is key in safeguarding healthy joints and supplements added to feeds can also help keep joints in good working order.
The common phrase associated with mobility is ‘stiff joints.’ This is a general term to label normal or abnormal wear and tear, which can have a big impact on a dog’s quality of life – especially breeds that are naturally very active. Joint conditions associated with a lack of sufficient cartilage are not curable, but there are things you can do for your dogs to improve their joint health and quality of life.
The most common causes of ‘stiff joints’ leading to reduced mobility are:
- Age – cartilage wears away over time, causing movement to become painful. This is common in older dogs but can affect younger ones too.
- Excess weight – this puts unnecessary strain on the joints and cartilage, increasing the risk of potential joint issues.
- Breed – certain breeds are known for joint problems. ‘At risk’ breeds include Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers.
- Trauma – accidents throughout a dog’s life can lead to stiff joints and decreased mobility as the dog ages.
- Congenital or hereditary defects – some breeds of dog have congenital or hereditary weaknesses making them susceptible to joint issues later in life.
Spotting the signs of mobility problems early on, and knowing when and how to help can keep dogs moving for longer. The key signs that a pet is experiencing stiff joints will vary from dog to dog. There are however a number of signs owners can look out for that can give them an indication that their four-legged friend might need some extra support for their joints. These include:
- Taking longer to get up after rest
- Reluctant to walk, jump or play
- Lagging behind on walks or seeming slower than normal
- Preferring to lie-down rather than stand and sleeping less settled
- Stiffness after exercise
- Change in character towards other people and dogs
Although in later stages of joint issues such as severe arthritis, any excessive movement will only lead to additional discomfort; gentle exercise in the early stages of any joint problems can be beneficial. For dogs with no joint problems, adequate exercise is extremely beneficial and should be provided daily. Taking an older dog on regular short walks as opposed to one long walk can help to keep its joints active and encourage movement and flexibility. An important role you can play in managing your dog’s joint health is regular assessment of his weight. The key is to not to over-do it and allow the dog to overexert its joints. The majority of dogs love to run and play and they are not able to understand when they should rest. Therefore, a dog that has the beginning of affected joints, will not stop running even when he begins to limp.