Joint Problems in Dogs

Many dogs suffer from some sort of joint issue.  Whether it is an inherited condition or acquired via other means, joint issues can effectively wreak havoc on a dog’s quality of life and in some cases result in death at a far younger age than normal.

Genetics can play a part in many joint problems.  Hip dysplasia is probably the number one inherited disease familiar to dog owners everywhere.  While responsible dog breeders and show people often have their dogs tested for dysplasia and only purchase puppies from breeders who do the same, many pet owners do not and often have rescue dogs with unknown parentage.  This means that many people simply don’t know the condition of their dog’s hips until a problem presents itself.  Other genetic joint issues include elbow dysplasia and luxating patellas.   While genetics can and often does play a part, other factors can have an impact as well.  These include diet and environmental factors both before and

Keep your dog happy and pain free by utilizing any number of treatment options available for joint pain

Keep your dog happy and pain free by utilizing any number of treatment options available for joint pain

after the dog is born.  Surgery is often an option for many of these problems though cost can be prohibitive and the surgical option does not always work.  Alternative treatments, such as chiropractic, diet changes supplements and other therapies, can often make the need for surgery obsolete.  Oftentimes injuries, such as a torn ACL, can be a precursor to arthritis – damage to any joint from any injury can be a later cause of joint pain.  Even when corrected by surgery, the problem can still arise.

While surgical intervention is often utilized and with success, many people have dogs who are not candidates for surgery, have other health problems the preclude safe surgery, or who still need some sort of continuing treatment after surgery.  There are many NSAIDs and other medications that veterinarians are quick to prescribe for dogs experiencing issues.  While generally okay for short term use to reduce swelling and ease pain, most of these drugs are nothing that you would want to have your dog on for any length of time.  Unfortunately, many vets will recommend that you do just that, neglecting to convey the seriousness of the side effects that long term use can produce.  NSAIDs include drugs such as Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx and Previcox to name a few.  It is important that all pet owners be cognizant of the side effects that come along with long term use of these medications.  While they commonly can cause diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, depression and loss of appetite, over the long term the side effects can be quite serious and permanent.  They include kidney damage, liver problems, ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding and perforations.  When long term use can be avoided, it should be at all costs.  At the very least, before such medicines are prescribed, a full blood panel should be done to assess kidney and liver function, and should be repeated periodically as time passes to compare levels.

Many people have been turning to alternative therapies and treatments for joint issues.  Unwilling to risk the long term

Level 5000 is one of the most complete and successful joint supplements on the market

Level 5000 is one of the most complete and successful joint supplements on the market

effects caused by massive amounts of medication, people are instead using such things sparingly and turning to alternative therapies and supplements to help heal their dog in a more natural way.  Supplements that are beneficial to joint health have become more and more popular – pet owners choose to use them earlier to prevent problems before they happen and use them regularly if a problem is detected.  Glucosamine is an incredibly safe and effective way help rehabilitate cartilage damaged by disease or injury.  Chondroitin helps to prevent enzymes from eating away at joint tissues and is often used alongside glucosamine.  The body can and does manufacture its own chondroitin, a process that is helped along by glucosamine, but adding an extra boost can often make the difference.  MSM (methylsulfonymethane) helps the body to form glucosamine and chondroitin and assists in maintaining the integrity of cartilage as well.  Green lipped mussels or Perna mussels, contain a type of Omega-3 fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce swelling and pain in the joints.  Many joint supplements will contain a variation of this substance as a result.

Liquid Health offers three varieties of joint formulas to fit every dog's needs.

Liquid Health offers three varieties of joint formulas to fit every dog’s needs.

In addition to supplementing your pet naturally, different therapeutic methods exist to ease your dog’s pain and build up compromised joints and muscles.  Water therapy has become more and more popular and swimming is a low impact way to build your dog’s strength without putting undue pressure on the joints.   Chiropractic is another method by which owners have been treating their dogs.  Chiropractic care can and is used for dogs (and cats and horses etc) who suffer from leg, neck, back or tail pain, arthritis, disc problems, injuries or illnesses from cancer to kidney disease.   Both can be used in tandem with conventional treatments or, in certain cases, alone when drugs or conventional treatment isn’t needed.  Always be certain to speak to your vet before embarking on any treatment regime – even when its non-conventional.  While your vet may not be well versed in alternative therapies, with open dialogue between you, it can be decided whether something could or would cause harm.

Conventional medications are NOT your only option.  Supplements and alternative treatments and therapies can and do help in many situations, and if conventional medication is needed, using it in tandem with natural remedies can often ensure quicker and more definitive results.  Don’t limit your options – explore, be proactive and find what will work best for your dog in all situations – from the common to the uncommon, there are different methods out there for you to explore and try.  For the good of your dog it is so very important that you do.