Dogs are inherently active animals. They love to run, jump, play, swim, burrow, and dig. Sometimes this can drive us crazy, like if they dig up the garden or jump on the couch. But a dog has to be a dog, and these types of activities are encoded into their very DNA. This is just what they do, and we love them for it! Unfortunately, their energetic and playful attitudes can eventually wear on their joints. Of course, we want to improve the joint health of our devoted dogs. With the right diet, exercise, and supplements we can achieve this naturally.
Why is Joint Health for Dogs So Important?
Were you aware that all dogs, from Chihuahuas to Great Danes, are related to wolves? Both of these animals belong to the genus Canis, and some zoologists even consider the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) to be a subspecies of the wolf (Canis familiaris).
Wolves are supreme hunters. They hunt in packs and can roam over huge territories. Consequently, it’s safe to say that our domestic dogs retain some of these instincts and need to be highly active. So by keeping their joint health optimal dogs can continue to be active and stay mobile as they age.
Furthermore, there is evidence suggesting that inactivity may actually cause joint problems. This 2003 study in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism clearly states, “[Joints] are meant to move [and] immobility is detrimental.” That means your dogs have to move about and stay active, otherwise, they may suffer from joint problems.
Why Do a Dog’s Joints Deteriorate?
There are various conditions that may cause joint pain and/or discomfort, including:
Also known as osteoarthritis (OA), this is the number one cause of chronic pain in dogs. It affects 1 in 5 adult dogs under the age of seven, and 3 out of 5 adult dogs over the age of seven. This degenerative disease causes chronic pain, decreased mobility, and lower quality of life.
There is also rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that can cause these same symptoms, although OA is caused by mechanical wear and tear while RA is an autoimmune disease in which your dog’s immune system attacks their joints.
Hip Dysplasia (HD) & Elbow Dysplasia (ED)
Both hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are congenital, developmental conditions that the dog is born with. They result in the joints not growing properly and causing potentially debilitating arthritic pain and/or discomfort.
Cruciate Ligament Problems
This is a particularly common form of canine arthritis whereby a dog’s ligaments deteriorate due to old age.
There is a type of canine hemophilia called Von Willebrand’s disease that causes excessive bleeding in the joints and leads to arthritic pain and/or discomfort.
Injuries From Trauma or Force
Your dog’s joints can also get injured due to outside force. They may suffer from strains to their tendons, which are the pieces of tissue that link bones and muscles. They may also suffer from sprains to the ligaments, which are the pieces of tissue that connect bones. One of the most serious injuries is a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), which connects the back of the femur (above the knee) with the front of the tibia (below the knee).
More Joint Deteriorating Conditions in Dogs
In addition to these general types of underlying conditions, there are related conditions that may cause arthritis and/or joint pain, including:
- Lyme disease
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
- Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)
- Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD)
- An improper diet or lack of certain nutrients
Dog Breeds Prone to Dysplasia
Researchers have recognized a strong correlation between improper breeding and dysplasia (both HD and ED) for many years now. In fact, this landmark study in Veterinary Quarterly from 1982 concluded that over 65% of all registered breeds showed a significant number (over half) of dysplasia cases. Some of the breeds most commonly affected by these types of problems include:
- German shepherds (GSDs)
- Retrievers (Golden and Labrador)
- St. Bernards
- Great Danes
- Old English Sheep Dogs
It should be pointed out that most of these are larger breeds. Remember, plenty of joint problems come from mechanical wear and tear; the larger the dog, the greater the weight on the joints.
Symptoms of Deteriorating Joints
There are various signs that your dog may exhibit when they are suffering from mobility or joint problems, including:
- Lameness and/or limping.
- Favoring the use of one leg over the other.
- Keeping one leg off the ground when standing.
- “Bunny hopping” when running.
- Having trouble when getting up on their feet and/or laying down.
- Noticeable swelling at the joints.
- Audible cracking and/or popping noises at the joints.
- Whining and/or whimpering.
- Stiffness or restricted movement, like when they are moving from a prone position after resting and/or sleeping.
- Hesitation, difficulty, or total inability to climb stairs, jump in a car, or get up onto a bed and/or couch.
- Lack of stamina or a slow pace during walks or running at the park.
- Excessive drooling and/or panting while they are at rest; this is one of the telltale signs that a dog is in pain.
- Excessive chewing and/or licking on or around joints that are sore, including elbows and/or ankles – this is another clear sign of chronic pain in dogs.
- Muscle wasting and/or atrophy.
Remember, dogs are inherently active and if an otherwise healthy animal exhibits one or more of these symptoms, they are likely suffering from joint problems that are impeding their mobility. Most dogs, unless they are suffering from health issues or the weather is excessively hot, should be able to walk or run for at least 20 to 30 minutes before they start to slow down.
Six Ways to Improve Joint Health for Dogs
Always remember that dogs need to be active. This is an absolute necessity for their health. They’re descended from wolves, remember? That means taking them out, letting them run, and giving them plenty of exercises. Exercise can be beneficial both as a preventative measure and for rehabilitation from an injury or procedure.
There are several types of exercises to enjoy with your furry friend. Switching up activities can help to stimulate the joints in different ways (as well as stimulate the mind). Walking your dog is always a nice exercise for both of you. Another great traditional exercise for your dog is playing fetch. Dogs absolutely love fetching basically anything you can throw. You can use your own toy or even a stick will work up a frenzy in almost any dog.
If you are not feeling too energetic yourself, you can always take your dog to the dog park and let him expend all his energy with all his little dog friends. Socializing is also important for a healthy dog.
2) Weight Loss
It’s absolutely vital that your dog stays at a healthy weight. As a 2012 study indicates, dogs are undergoing an obesity epidemic and it’s causing rates of osteoarthritis to skyrocket. Research also indicates that weight reduction can help treat lameness in dogs with osteoarthritis.
If you want a healthy weighing dog then it is best to monitor its diet and exercise. Obesity in dogs is defined as weighing more than 30% above their ideal weight. If your dog is obese or on the verge then you should probably limit its access to food and increase its exercise routine.
Stop feeding it table scraps if you do and opt for a healthy premium dog food. Feeding your dog smaller portions more often can help to burn calories quicker resulting in a weight decrease.
It’s a natural substance in your dog’s body, with large concentrations deposited in healthy cartilage. Your doggy’s body produces glucosamine (glycosaminoglycan) for the formation and repair of tissues such as cartilage. Sadly as a dog ages, glucosamine production slows down. Although, by providing extra glucosamine to your dog’s diet you can help to counteract this.
You can purchase glucosamine supplements for dogs and incorporate it into your dog’s diet. Dosing sizes can vary between products so we recommend always following the manufacturer’s dosing directions.
Glucosamine is a common supplement that can help treat various joint problems. Additionally, many veterinarians will prescribe it as a substitute for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
This is a remarkable nutritional supplement with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Recent research has indicated that it is highly effective in treating canine joint problems, including a study in 2012, and one in 2019. Boswellia is proving itself to be incredibly effective!
Boswellia is sold in three different forms which are resin, pills, and creams. Each of these applications can help sooth or improve joint health in dogs. You can rub the cream topically on joints to help relieve pain and promote mobility. You can add the pills or resin to your dog’s diet. This will supply Boswellia internally which may help reduce inflammation surrounding the joints.
Additionally, you can opt for convenience and quality and get yourself some Joint and Mobility dog treats with Boswellia already added, along with Turmeric and CBD. That’s 3 amazing ingredients listed here combined into one powerful product to help improve joint health for dogs.
The root of the turmeric plant contains a powerful yellowish compound called curcumin with remarkable anti-inflammatory properties. Numerous studies have indicated that it is highly effective at treating osteoarthritis and joint inflammation in dogs, including a study from 2003 (with the curcumin in the form of an extract called P54FP), and one from 2017.
There is also research indicating that curcumin is highly effective at treating osteoarthritis when combined with Boswellia. This is why we choose to combine both Tumeric and Boswellia into our Joint and Mobility dog treats. Whether you choose our convenient treats or some other turmeric product always follow the dosage directions that come with your product.
6) Cannabidiol (CBD)
Last, but certainly not least, the hemp (cannabis) extract known as cannabidiol (CBD) may also be effective towards joint issues in dogs. CBD is a miraculous compound that can interact with your dog’s endogenous endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Your dog’s ECS helps to govern many important functions in your dog’s body. It just so happens that inflammation and obesity may be affected by ECS. CBD may help to improve the functionality of the ECS which may allow the ECS to control inflammation and appetite more appropriately.
There are many ways for you to supply CBD to your dog’s joints including our 3 special variations of CBD dog treats. You can also go with the most popular application which is the easy to use, versatile, CBD pet tincture. There are also CBD capsules for dog’s which are convenient to carry around and they work great for adding CBD to wet food.
How to Monitor Your Dog’s Joint Mobility
As a dog owner, you should always be observant of your dog’s behavior. If something seems off or they are acting strangely, there is probably something wrong. Trust your gut and listen to your intuition. If the condition does not appear to be totally debilitating, you may treat the symptoms with several of the methods listed above.
Keep a log of their symptoms, 2 to 3 times a day, as well as how often you are feeding them the supplements or treats. If their condition does not improve or deteriorates, then take them to a veterinarian to seek out other treatments.