Help for Improving a Dog's Joints

by Tom Ryan
    Only a veterinarian can recommend the best course of treatment.

    Only a veterinarian can recommend the best course of treatment.

    Dean Golja/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Dogs can suffer from various conditions that make daily activities strenuous on their joints, causing pain and hindering ability. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from joint pain, don't make assumptions about the severity of his condition -- make an appointment with your vet. The veterinarian can diagnose the condition and offer a recommendation for a course of treatment that will alleviate your dog's discomfort.

    To help your dog's joints, you need to accurately report on his condition to your veterinarian. Keep track of when you notice that your dog appears to be suffering from joint pain, including time of day and the particular activity. For example, you may notice that your dog has trouble climbing stairs or getting up from laying down, or you may notice that he limps on one of his legs. He may have more trouble in the mornings or in the evenings. Maintain a detailed record of any such symptoms as your vet appointment approaches.

    Your vet may recommend lifestyle changes that can help your dog's joints, like losing weight. Overweight dogs put too much demand on their joints, which can cause pain over time -- losing the excess weight helps them take a load off their over-taxed joints. Increased exercise under conditions that don't aggravate the joints can increase your dog's strength, allowing his muscles to provide more support to the joints. Your vet may recommend supervised exercise like physical therapy to help your dog trim down and gain muscle without hurting his joints.

    Depending on the type and the severity of your dog's joint pain, the veterinarian may recommend or prescribe medication that will help alleviate his pain and other symptoms, like swelling. The vet may even recommend giving your dog supplements like those with omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties that can help the joints, or glucosamine and chondroitin, which can repair cartilage. Chiropractic treatments may also help your dog manage the pain of his condition.

    If your dog's joint condition is particularly severe, the vet may recommend a treatment as serious as corrective surgery. For example, if your dog is suffering from the osteoarthritis that affects older animals, the vet may recommend surgery like a hip replacement. Other dogs may suffer from conditions like hip dysplasia, in which the hip socket is deformed, creating joint pain. Various corrective surgeries can remedy this deformity and help your dog develop a healthy joint.

    Photo Credits

    • Dean Golja/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

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