By: Stephanie Gregerson
As our beloved dogs age, they experience a lot of the same health issues that humans can have. It’s our job to make sure we are helping them stay as comfortable and healthy as possible in their golden years. One common ailment with aging dogs is joint pain.
The good news is that there are multiple things a pet owner can do to alleviate that pain and help the dog stay comfortable and healthy. And for dog owners who still have young pups, there are a few ways to help prevent these issues in the future.
We’re going to share seven different tips to help ensure proper joint care for your senior dog.
Gentle Exercise Daily
Walking is the best exercise. Keeping dogs of all ages active is so important to their health. As they get older, it’s best to stick to a few short 10-15 minute walks each day instead of one long one. It allows their body to rest in between and not strain anything, but still keeps them active. Plus, we all know how much they love to sniff around the neighborhood.
Another great exercise option is swimming. Moving in the water is gentle on the joints. Not everyone has easy access to a lake, pool, or water source, but if you’re one of the lucky ones – let your pup splash around for a while.
Healthy Diet & Weight
Weight is a huge factor in proper joint care. Overweight dogs have a much higher chance of joint issues as they get older, so a healthy diet is extremely important. Some breeds, such as the Dachshund, are especially prone to joint problems if they don’t maintain the proper weight. Thus, senior Dachshund owners must be sure to manage their nutritional needs closely.
The nutritional needs of pups change as they grow up, so we recommend chatting with your vet about the food you’re using and when it’s the right time to switch to a diet targeted towards senior dogs.
Obviously, exercise will also help keep the weight in a healthy range, but diet is equally as important. If you aren’t sure what a healthy weight is for your animal, check with your vet.
Diet is super important, but sometimes a little extra boost can go a long way. That’s where supplements come in. DGP, for example, helps support pet’s mobility and flexibility. Using natural compounds, it’s able to help ease any pain and discomfort and supports other vital functions of the body.
Other supplement options are available and take a little longer to work. You’ll see glucosamine and chondroitin in many pet supply shops. Whatever supplement you end up getting, just make it part of the daily routine to see the best effects.
Regular Check Ups at the Vet
Visiting your veterinarian for regular check-ups is another easy way to stay on top of your canine’s health. It helps prevent any larger health issues from escalating. Early intervention is vital to a happy, healthy dog. Vets are the best resource to answer any questions you have as well, so use that opportunity to talk about weight, diet, and supplements. Google is a helpful tool, but professionals that know your dog are the best source for advice.
A Safe Home
Your home is where your animals spend the majority of their time. It should be a safe and comfortable space for them. Let’s look at a few common items you can update to avoid any accidents.
Hard surface stairs can be slippery and hard to navigate for dogs as they age. Adding a stair runner or something similar to the stairs can help make it easier for your pet to get up and down without issues.
Outdoor steps are another place to keep an eye on, especially if you live somewhere with ice and snow. Keeping the stairs cleared so they can go up and down without slipping; this will help their joints stay intact and pain free.
Many pet owners take it to the next level and purchase or build ramps. You can find some great DIY tutorials out there. These can be used on stairs, but they are also good if your dog gets up and down from furniture often. The gradual incline is easier on them than jumping a few feet whenever they use those items. Most ramps you find will be carpeted and pretty simple, but they can make a big difference on the ease of your pup getting around.
Rugs & Mats
Hard surface flooring is a great option for households with pets because it’s much easier to keep clean. That said, it can be hard on aging dogs if it is slippery. Adding some rugs or mats to the high traffic areas where they may be excited and move quickly around corners.
Upgrade Their Bed
We spend a lot of time sleeping and dogs easily beat us out in that arena. We’ve all watched our pups have dreams where they are chasing squirrels. It’s important that their bed is comfortable and easy on their joints. Orthopedic beds for dogs are the way to go. It’s an investment in their comfort and health. Taking the strain off their joints while they sleep will help make sure they are getting enough zzz’s every night and waking up feeling rejuvenated.
Other Therapy Options for Proper Joint Care for Your Senior Dog
If you are already doing all the things above and you feel like there’s more you want to do, there are a few different therapy options available for senior dogs.
Acupuncture is one form of therapy that many people take advantage of for their dogs. It can help bring some pain relief to the pups.
Hydrotherapy is another option that your vet might recommend. Like we mentioned above, using water and pools to help movement is great for pets AND humans. The therapist would just give additional feedback and instruction.
So Which Option Should You Start With?
The best advice we can give is to check with your vet. If you’re concerned that your senior dog is starting to have joint issues, try any of the above tips and work them into your daily routine. Get some supplements and upgrade their bed. Install a stair runner and work in a short walk every morning. Any combination will be a step in the right direction to helping them get back to a pain-free, happy life.
If you’re ahead of the game and working to prevent any joint issues, start with your dog’s weight, diet, and exercise levels. Maintaining a healthy weight is the number one thing you can do to provide proper joint care for your senior dog.